ADD and ADHD in Children

The topic of the ADD and ADHD and the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment have been popular for the last 50 years. Originally a child’s brain was thought to be operating too quickly and people believed “hyperactive” had a neurologically oppositional response to stimulant medication. In addition, it was believed that if the child had a positive response to stimulant medication that this confirmed the diagnosis. We have found in later years that this is erroneous. Many children were diagnosed and treated for Attention Defictit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder who were not subject to that disorder. The biggest problem with this diagnosis is that most of the writing on the subject has been done in the form of laymen’s self help books. The initial diagnosis is usually made by the classroom teacher and the treatment is sustained by the pediatrician. The popularized symptoms of ADHD including inattention, disruptive behavior, impulsive behaviors and peer problems are in many cases identical to the symptoms of depression, trauma, brain injured children and the pre-psychotic child to name a few. Once the diagnosis is made and the medical treatment has begun, the diagnostic study too frequently comes to an end and the focus becomes on the choice of medication and the dosage. Years later, this medical regime may be abandoned if no benefit has occurred but the ongoing disorder remains untreated.

There really is such a disorder as Attention Deficit and Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity. It occurs in far fewer numbers than once believed and is a neurological disorder. Neurologically the brain is less active in these children than in normal children and the appropriately prescribed stimulant medication serves to stimulate neurological activity, and not to depress it. The diagnosis of these disorders should be a diagnosis of last resort after other diagnosis as previously mentioned are ruled out. It is also not uncommon for ADD and ADHD to co-occur with other disorders and conditions. The diagnosis of these disorders should be made by a psychologist, neuropsychologist or child counselor in concert with the pediatrician. The counseling or treatment of the child with ADD or ADHD is geared toward assisting the child to use compensations for neurological deficits. The child primarily needs to learn to stay on or return to a given task. The child also needs to learn to anticipate the repercussions of their decisions and behavior before they act. The counselor assists the parent in seeing their child as neurologically deficient rather than as “bad”.