Facts About ADD and ADHD

I just read a letter from a distraught parent and felt that it needed an answer. The father was upset because a school teacher felt that his son had ADHD. He knew that his child could be difficult at times but also knew that his son was a good, smart child. Both parents were quite upset about just the thought of their child having to see a mental health professional for what they considered to be a questionable disorder at best.

ADHD is a real disorder which can be seen on PET scans.
It has been diagnosed for over 100 years. Usually it is inherited but sometimes it is caused by trauma during the pregnancy or birth or exposure to toxins. We have used stimulant medications to treat it for over 60 years. ADHD is not something that we just invented so that we could put all of the difficult children on medications. In order to diagnose ADHD not only must the child have enough symptoms to justify the diagnosis but also there must be impairment in at least 2 different settings and significant impairment is one of those settings.

Having ADHD has nothing to do with how smart a child is.
Some very intelligent children have ADHD, some children with average intelligence have it, and some with below average intelligence have the disorder. ADHD interferes with a child’s ability to function up to his or her capacity. Unfortunately, it often feels as if the child is just lazy when the parents see that he or she can stay on task to play video games but doesn’t appear to be able to complete or turn in school work.
ADHD interferes with a child’s ability to complete boring, redundant work which is not all that attractive from the very start. When I first heard this statement, I thought to myself “doesn’t everybody have this problem?” I asked one of my teachers and he told me that people without ADHD might have to force themselves to complete the work but children with ADHD really just can’t do it.

The parents who wrote the letter eventually did end up taking their child for an evaluation and the doctor diagnosed ADHD and recommended that the child start a trial on Adderall. The parents were very upset that the doctor made this recommendation and went on the internet googled Adderall.

Unfortunately googling ADHD or any of the medications often only increases parents’ confusion.
Online there are all sorts of agendas regarding ADHD. There are people trying to convince you that ADHD is not real, there are people trying to tell you that the medications to treat ADHD are extremely dangerous, kiddy cocaine, and there are others trying to sell you a variety of unproven treatment strategies.

If you have questions regarding the safety of a recommended medication, discuss it with your doctor.

Get another opinion from another doctor. If you do go online, go to the ChADD webpage or some other mainstream page. Remember that nobody can force you to use medication to treat ADHD. This is a parental choice. Medication for ADHD is a symptomatic treatment and does not cure the disorder. There are many medication choices available. Most of them work quickly so that you can quickly find out whether or not the medication works. If you don’t see significant improvements, you should not even consider using the medication. Yes, I agree that it is a big decision to start your child on any medication and it should only be done with caution.
If you are told that you should have your child evaluated, remember that you are control of the ultimate decision. Also remember to beware of people who want to sell you unproven treatments. Researching your options is wise, but make sure that your research sources are legitimate. If you decide to try medication, look at it as a trial. If the medication doesn’t help significantly, don’t use it but do continue to work with legitimate doctors to determine your best options.

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