Thanks to news.com.au for this article
IT is a condition that is often treated with suspicion due to a lack of understanding, but help is available for kids and their families
It is a condition that is often treated with suspicion due to a lack of understanding, but help is available for kids and their families
The term may have crept into our vernacular, but for parents of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) it is hard to be flippant.
ADHD is not only a very real and diagnosable neurobiological condition, it is estimated to affect somewhere between three and 10 per cent of children and adolescents. That is at least one child in each class, depending on the figure you use.
Yet despite these high numbers, a stigma remains because of a lack of understanding about the presence and prevalence of ADHD, says Kerry Cooney, author and founder of the website Every Day with ADHD and the mother of a child with ADHD.
“People know what ADHD stands for and they know some of the symptoms, but there remains a lack of understanding about what this disorder means for the child and their parents,” she says.
A controversial topic
Recent research and media reports into the misdiagnosis of ADHD, over-prescription of drugs for kids and even doubts about the condition’s existence have done nothing to help the situation.
Ms Cooney says the term is now often used as a throw-away line to describe inattentive or manic behaviour. As such, it dilutes the reality of the disorder and often drives parents and sufferers underground.
“It’s very understandable that many parents will hide their child’s condition because they don’t want their child labelled or made to feel even more different,” she says.
University of Sydney research has confirmed that the stigma which continues to dog ADHD places parents in a stressful position when it comes to choosing treatment for a child diagnosed with the disorder.
“For some parents [the diagnosis] is a tough pill to swallow,” says Dr Anthony Dillon, a social scientist at the university’s Centre for Positive Psychology and Education.
“Without clear directives from health professionals, they find it difficult to make an informed decision. Health professionals are a major source of validating information.
“They can influence parents in regard to their beliefs on what qualifies as a medical condition and what is the most appropriate treatment for it.”
A proper diagnosis
Parents who think their child could have ADHD should get a proper and complete diagnosis. The sooner this happens, the better because, as with many behavioural conditions, early intervention and treatment have the best outcomes, says Associate Professor Tim Hannon from Charles Sturt University.
“Having ADHD can play havoc with a child’s life, their academic performance and their relationships with others and within their family,” he says.
“Parents are encouraged to seek a proper diagnosis, treatment and support as early as possible.”
He agrees that due to confusion about the condition among education and health professionals, parents have been receiving contradictory advice and wrong diagnoses.
“ADHD can be difficult to diagnose because childhood is characterised by symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity,” Mr Hannon says.
“But the overwhelming characteristic is impulsivity – a marked tendency to act without thinking and to not be able to control their impulses.
“[A diagnosis] is not something which can be done across a playground, nor can it be done by the teacher. Parents who are concerned should consult a psychologist trained in ADHD assessment.”
Children can be diagnosed as young as three, with the majority being diagnosed by the early school years.
Between 25 and 50 per cent of kids diagnosed with ADHD will grow out of it and most will benefit from treatment. It is this area that can be tricky because of the controversy surrounding the prescription of stimulant medications such as Ritalin.
While about 80 per cent of kids appear to receive some benefit from stimulant medication, Mr Hannon says there is no cure for ADHD and drugs only treat the condition while active. When you stop taking them, they wear off.
Mr Hannon says many kids also benefit from psychological treatments which help them learn to manage their behaviour.
“A multi-modality approach combining medication and psychological treatments is often the most effective,” he says.
Born or bred?
It is estimated that 80 per cent of individuals diagnosed with ADHD have inherited the condition.
If one child in the family is diagnosed with ADHD, there is a 60 per cent chance each additional child will also have it.
Did you know? Jamie Oliver, Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, Michael Phelps and Jim Carrey all have ADHD.
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/news/why-parents-hide-adhd/story-fnelnuip-1226441921355#ixzz22VR5Ikqk