ADHD: Frequently Asked Questions
Amanda McLean, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist
ADHD is a neuro genetic disorder. So we are looking at a chronic delay in the development of a normal trait. The trait of self-control, stopping and thinking or inhibiting, and this is not about bad parenting. This is not about if the parent did something wrong. This is not about diet. This is really just how the person is, the way they are built.
There are two subtypes of ADHD. There is a subtype that is associated with more hyper active and impulsive behavior and for these children the first sign is typically hyper activity. The child simply behaves too much and there is an excess in verbal and motor behavior and that is noted in their difficulties in stopping and thinking, with waiting their turn whether it be in line, in conversations, in play activities. They will show a lot of interruptions. They will have a hard time resisting distractions and they just tend to do the first thing that pop into their head without thinking about the consequences for their behavior.
For the more inattentive subtype for ADHD that is not associated with impulsivity, these symptoms are going to include resisting distractions, and the child is going to have a harder time when they have to independently follow through on tasks. They are going to have a harder time with organization. They are going to frequently lose things or misplace things and just have a hard time staying on task and focused.
If you're noticing impairment in your child's academic functioning, family functioning, peer relations or all of the above, then I would recommend scheduling an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss what is typical child development and what are the severity of symptoms that we are seeing. If there is a question about ADHD, I would then recommend that the parent obtain a referral from their pediatrician for a psychologist so they can have a thorough evaluation completed before initiating any kind of treatment.
Chief among the treatment for ADHD is just education, education for the parents and for school staff on the symptoms and the management of the symptoms. There is good research to support the use of stimulant medications and behavior modification. I would strongly recommend that any child with ADHD be receiving some behavior modification treatment which is going to include parent training. It's important to remember that when you're doing behavior modification this is more about helping the child be successful at the point of performance, because we are dealing with a difficulty with inhibiting and stopping. They are going to need additional support in the setting where these symptoms occur.
Parents can have many questions when it comes to their child and ADHD. Amanda McLean, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist at Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health, answers the most common questions about ADHD.