Q. Is there a cure?

Like diabetes and high blood pressure, ADHD does not seem to go away. However, with appropriate treatment functioning can be improved dramatically. Medication, psychotherapy (including family treatment), Neuro-feedback, and psycho-education have been found to be effective when treating individuals with ADHD and helping their families. Stimulants are a group of medications that are typically used to treat ADHD, they tend to even out the ADHD child or adult. Neuro-feedback can be effective in retraining the brain to lessen the impact of ADHD in everyday functioning. This is done by creating a healthier Brainwave profile. Psychotherapy and psycho-education can help the client and his/her family to learn how to better deal with symptoms of ADHD and create a supportive atmosphere for the client. While all these treatments have been empirically shown to be effective, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating ADHD. What works for one child, may not work for another. It takes a team.

Q. My child’s teacher says he/she has ADHD. Am I to take it seriously?

Teachers have the rare opportunity to observe your child in the uniquely difficult school setting, where children are required to sit still and concentrate for a prolonged period of time. Naturally, it is important to seriously consider the teacher’s concern. However, teachers are not mental health professionals and cannot definitively diagnose ADHD. Sometimes what they are seeing in the classroom is not ADHD but some other issues, i.e. mild learning problems or nervousness. If you suspect that your child has symptoms that resemble ADHD, please contact a mental health provider.

Q. Are medications for ADHD good or bad?

Medications have been shown to be effective with individuals with ADHD, and when used appropriately are great. They can enable an easily distractible child to succeed in school and an impulsive adult to have successful relationships. However, there are side effects that one should be aware of. Stimulants may lead to a decreased appetite and sleep problems. Due to significant issues with children taking these medications, they should be closely monitored by an appropriate medical doctor, usually a psychiatrist for children or adolescents.

Q. How does psychological testing help diagnose ADHD?

A thorough psychological assessment includes gathering information from individuals who know the client in different settings. For instance, at school, home and work. Information is collected through structured instruments (behavior rating scales) and semi-structured interviews. Finally, intelligence testing, achievement testing, measures of attention and impulsivity, and personality testing are required to construct a comprehensive psychological profile. Any one of these instruments is not enough to diagnose ADHD. Only through the integration of all test results can a mental health professional draw diagnostic conclusions.

Q. What is the difference between the inattentive and hyperactive types?

The predominantly hyperactive-impulsive sub-type includes symptoms in the hyperactivity-impulsivity category. These symptoms may include fidgeting and squirming in their seats, nonstop talking, dashing around, having trouble sitting still, be constantly in motion, have difficulty doing quiet tasks, being very impatient, blurting out inappropriate comments, and often interrupt conversations or others’ activities. This type must include fewer than six symptoms of inattention, although inattention may still be a concern.

The predominantly inattentive sub-type includes symptoms in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity. Symptoms of inattention may include distractability, missing details, forgetting things, switching from one activity to another, having difficulty focusing on one thing, becoming bored with a task after only a few minutes, having difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task (homework), not seeming to listen when spoken to, and struggling to follow instructions. While hyperactivity and impulsivity may still be present, children and adults in this category struggle primarily with inattention and concentration.

Q. Is it my fault as a parent?

ADHD is a medical condition and it is neither yours, nor your child’s fault. It is natural for caring parents to doubt their parenting skills and to feel overwhelmed, especially when the child is exhibiting symptoms that are difficult to handle. However, just like there are no perfect children, there also are no perfect parents. If you are experiencing excessive shame and guilt, please consult with your mental health provider. Usually common parenting techniques that worked wonderfully for other children are frustratingly ineffective with a ADD child or adolescent. We encourage parents to become exceptional parents so that the family issues related to ADD are understood and are responded to appropriately.

Q. Do adults get ADHD?

Many children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as adults. These symptoms, however, may present differently in adulthood than they did in childhood. For instance, an adult with ADHD may find it difficult to remember appointments or keep a job. They may be very disorganized and have trouble remembering birthdays or special occasions. They may also have difficulties with romantic relationships due to the inability to listen to their partner or pay attention to their needs.