Screening Your Student for ADD/ADHD – What You Should Know

WHAT IS ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER (ADD) AND ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD)?
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are neurocognitive disorders, which manifest during childhood. Approximately 10% of all children meet criteria for ADD/ADHD and about half will continue to have difficulties into adulthood.

ADD/ADHD is defined as an individual having difficulties with inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity, which occur chronically for more than 6 months. These symptoms can occur in different environments such as school, work, home, church, clubs, sports, and planned group events.

Another key point to understand is that these behaviors of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity are not caused by something else, such as depression, anxiety, learning difficulties, or chaotic environments.

WHAT CAN BE SO FRUSTRATING ABOUT ADD/ADHD?
Often times, individuals with ADD/ADHD can be labeled with terms like “stupid, lazy, and unmotivated.” The truth is that they are just as smart and hard working as others. What actually happens is the ADD/ADHD symptoms get in the way of an individual’s functioning so that it takes them more time and effort to succeed.

Because of this, those with ADHD may lose interest in challenging activities quickly, have lower self-esteem from chronic failure, or develop less efficient coping skills to manage time compared to those without ADD/ADHD. They may also find everyday tasks mundane and seek riskier, more exciting activities instead. Consequently, a child with ADD/ADHD can be derailed from normal development, which can lead to long lasting difficulties.

WHEN SHOULD YOU EVALUATE YOUR CHILD?
Younger children are typically referred for evaluation because of school and home life disruptions. There are, however, children who never get referred for treatment because they do not cause concerning difficulties for their parents or teachers that would raise the common red flags. Here are two examples of this:

Example One: A child can have predominantly inattentive type ADD/ADHD. These children are often quiet and keep to themselves. Their struggles with ADD/ADHD are missed because they are assumed to be doing well since they rarely voice any complaints. What is actually happening to these children is that they are so distracted by their surrounding stimuli that they are not present or fully engaged in their lives.

Example Two: The child in question is driven and gifted, with innate skills and motivation that push him or herself through their ADD/ADHD symptoms towards success. Unfortunately, they can pick up inefficient skills which break down once the demands of their workload matches their skill and intensity level. At this point, the child becomes functionally behind because they did not learn more adaptive life skills. Consequently, if your teen or young adult child is having new difficulties in life or persistent troubles, which have not improved, you should have them evaluated by a professional to see if they have ADD/ADHD.

ADHD TREATMENT OPTIONS
There are several different treatments for childhood and adult ADHD including medications (stimulants and non-stimulants) and psychotherapy (parent training, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness). The purpose for treatment is to target increased functioning and effective skill building. With these, someone with ADD/ADHD can build their self-esteem and confidence in succeeding with modern life demands. Please discuss your preference of treatment with your mental health professional so that they can best meet your goals.

SIGNS YOU SHOULD GET YOUR STUDENT SCREENED FOR ADD/ADHD
If your teenager or young adult has one or more of the following difficulties, you may want them to be evaluated by a mental health professional:

They make careless mistakes
They have functionally declined in school, home, and extracurricular activities
They have trouble sustaining attention
They have trouble listening
They can’t follow multi-step tasks
They lack organization
They lose things
They are easily distracted
They fidget or squirm
They need to move around when not appropriate
They talk excessively
They interrupt others
They have trouble waiting their turn
They need to be “on the go”
If you suspect that your child needs an evaluation, it is best to perform one now before school begins. This way you can have your treatment plan in place before the start of school. This can help teachers, parents and the student to be set for success.

If you have any more questions about ADD/ADHD and how to screen and test for it, please feel free to give us a call at 919.636.5240, or email us to request an appointment.

We even have Saturday and evening appointments available for your convenience.

To Your Child’s Success,
Dr. Namdari

Author
Dr. Beyrouz Namdari

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