Introduction Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common disorder that primarily affects children and adolescents. Approximately 2 to 16 percent of school aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD (Rader, Mccauley, Callen, 2009). Children with ADHD have difficulties paying attention and are more impulsive than other children. The behaviors exhibited by children with ADHD can make it difficult to function at school and at home. Treatment of ADHD can include medication, behavior modification, lifestyle changes, or therapy.
Signs and Symptoms Children with ADHD have a combination of inattentive behavior and hyperactive behavior (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). The symptoms are more evident when the child is participating in an activity that requires concentration (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Some of the signs and symptoms include (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011): ? Trouble sustaining focus during tasks ?Seems not to listen when spoken to ?Has problems organizing tasks ?Avoids tasks that require mental concentration, like homework ? Easily distracted ?Forgetful Has difficulty playing quietly ?Always seems to be on the go ?Talks excessively ?Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn ?Interrupts others conversations or games ?Runs or climbs excessively with it is inappropriate While these are common symptoms of ADHD, the behaviors displayed can be different in boys and girls. Boys are more likely to be hyperactive, while girls have a tendency to be quietly inattentive (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Boys who are inattentive often fidget and squirm while girls daydream (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
Boys behavior is often more obvious in the classroom than girls because they tend to be less compliant with teachers (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). ADHD often occurs with other conditions in children including: having a learning disability, oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), and anxiety and depression (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Children with ADHD often struggle with school work so they often fail in academics and face judgment from their peers (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). They are also face an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
In 2006 the number of school age children that have ADHD in the United States was approximately 5 percent (Pastor & Reuben, 2008). This number is up 3 percent since 1997 (Pastor & Reuben, 2008). The percentage of children with ADHD seems to continue to be on the rise. Older children, 12-17 years old, are more likely than younger children, 6-11 years old, to have ADHD (Pastor & Reuben, 2008). Boys are more likely than girls to have ADHD (Pastor & Reuben, 2008). Hispanic children are less likely than non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic children to have ADHD (Pastor & Reuben, 2008).
Children living in a mother-only family are more likely to have ADHD than those living in a two-parent household (Pastor & Reuben, 2008). Children covered by Medicaid were found to have a higher instance of ADHD than uninsured and privately insured children (Pastor & Reuben, 2008). ADHD is more prominent in children whose mother only has an intermediate education, which means less than a bachelor’s degree (Pastor & Reuben, 2008). Causes Many parents blame themselves when their child is diagnosed with ADHD. However, it appears that most causes tend to be inherited.
There isn’t a lot of information available about the cause of ADHD but here are several factors that appear to contribute. ADHD seems to run in families, so heredity plays a role (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Genes that may be associated with ADHD are currently being studied (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Studies of the brain have shown that people with ADHD have less activity in the section of the brain that controls activity and attention (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Pregnant women who smoke or abuse alcohol or drugs are more likely to have children with ADHD (Mayo Clinic taff, 2011). Young children who are exposed to toxins, such as lead, have a higher occurrence of ADHD (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Hyperactivity may be contributed to certain food additives such as artificial food coloring or preservatives (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Low birth weight has also been associated with ADHD in children ((Pastor & Reuben, 2008). Diagnosing ADHD When going to see a doctor to check for ADHD, the exam usually begins with a complete medical exam and questions regarding the child’s health and issues that occur at school and home (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
Providing as much information as possible the child is crucial to rule out any other disorders. There is no specific test check a child for ADHD. Children that are diagnosed with ADHD must have had the problems for a long period of time. In order for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, they must meet specific criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, DSM-IV (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011). A child must have six or more symptoms from two categories, inattention and hyperactivity and impulsiveness (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
The specific symptoms are listed in the DSM-IV. In addition to having six of the symptoms, in order to be diagnosed with ADHD the child must also show signs and symptoms that were present before age 7, display behaviors that aren’t normal for children his or her age, have symptoms for at least six months, and have symptoms that affect school, home, or relationships (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011) When diagnosed with ADHD, children are often given a more specific diagnosis. Predominately inattentive-type ADHD is when a child has six symptoms from the inattentive category (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
Predominately hyperactive-impulsive-type ADHD is when a child has six symptoms from the hyperactive-impulsive category (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). When a child has six or more symptoms from both the inattentive category and hyperactive-impulsive category, they are said to have Combined type ADHD (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Diagnosing ADHD in very young children, preschool or younger, can be very difficult. Developmental delays in young children can be mistaken for ADHD symptoms (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
There are also other conditions that have similar symptoms of ADHD including: learning disorders, depression, sleep disorders, and anxiety disorders. Not only do these disorders share symptoms, they often coexist with ADHD. Treatment Medications are one of the most common forms of treatment for ADHD. Stimulant drugs and nonstimulant drugs are commonly prescribed for treatment of ADHD. Stimulant drugs include methylphenidate, Ritalin, and dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, Adderall (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). Stimulants boost and balance the level of neurotransmitters in the brain (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999).
The stimulants improve inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). These medications only work for a limited amount of time and can take a long time to find the proper dosage (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). Stimulant medication often has side effects such as decreased appetite, weight loss, sleeping problems, and irritability (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). Some children experience a slowed growth rate while on stimulants, but it doesn’t appear to permanently affect the child (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999).
It is important that children taking stimulants don’t have any heart conditions. Heart related deaths have been linked to children and adolescents taking stimulant medications (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). Nonstimulant medications are usually given to children when stimulants haven’t been effective at treating ADHD symptoms or are causing side effects (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). However, nonstimulant medications have side effects as well including, nausea and sedation (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). The drug Atomoxetine has been linked to severe liver problems (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999).
An increase in suicidal thoughts have also been reported when taking the drug (The MTA Cooperative Group, 1999). Behavior therapy or counseling may also benefit children with ADHD. It is especially helpful for children who have coexisting conditions such as an anxiety disorder or depression (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). In behavior therapy, adults who work with the child can learn how to deal with different situations (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Other forms of therapy include psychotherapy, support groups, and social skills training (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Lifestyle changes can also be effective in helping treat the ymptoms of ADHD. Focusing on the child’s positive behavior instead of negative can have a positive impact on the child’s behavior (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Another tip for parents is to be patient and stay realistic about your expectations (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Keeping a regular schedule for a child with ADHD is helpful because these children have a hard time adjusting to change (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). The symptoms of ADHD can be worse in a tired child (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). An excellent tip for parents is to make time for yourself (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
Parents are less effective when they are tired and stressed out (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). When children are in school, some modifications may need to be made as well. Parents should take advantage of any programs the school may offer. There is a law in place that requires schools to have programs in place for disabled children to get the proper support (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Simple changes may need to be made such as moving desks around in the classroom. Parents should stay in close partnership with the teacher and school staff (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011).
Teachers and parents should monitor the child’s schoolwork and clearly define their expectations (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). There isn’t a lot of research on alternative treatments but a few have been studied. Changes in diet have shown little help in decreasing the symptoms of ADHD in children. Limiting the amounts of sugar consumed are not effective in treatment (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Some other alternative treatments that are not effective include yoga and meditation, vitamin supplements, and herbal supplements. Support and Resources Caring for a child with ADHD can be a stressful situation for the whole family.
Parents may have to deal with marital strain while siblings may get less attention from their parents (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Treating and finding help for children with ADHD can also place a financial burden on families (Mayo Clinic staff, 2011). Talking to other parents of children with ADHD can be one of the best forms of support for parents. There is not anyone who can better relate to the struggles of parenting a child with ADHD like another parent of a child with ADHD (Rodriguez, 2009). Talking to other parents can help find other resources and methods of coping.
Support groups are also a great way to find resources. At support groups, parents can share ideas, doctors, and of course, support (Rodriguez, 2009). Dailystrength. org offers many support groups and forums online. The child’s doctors should also be a form of support. They can offer advice about how to manage the symptoms of ADHD. While having a child with ADHD can put a strain on a marital relationship, the parents should work together to manage their child’s behavior. Sharing responsibilities and talking to each other about problems should be a form of support (Rodriguez, 2009).
There are many different resources available for parents of children with ADHD and children with ADHD in Colorado. There are even some schools that specialize in educating children with ADHD. The Denver Academy has low student-to-teacher ratio and the teachers are trained in educating students with ADHD (denveracademy. org). Over 90% of the students that graduate go on to college (denveracademy. org). The Havern School is located in Littleton and also has a low student-to-teacher ratio (haverncenter. org). The students at the Havern School get the chance to go to occupational therapy throughout the school day (haverncenter. org).
The Brideun Learning Community is another option for children with ADHD in Lafayette. This school is especially for children with ADHD that are gifted (brideun. com). The students can learn at their own pace from teachers who are trained in educating students with ADHD and gifted students (briedun. com). Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or CHADD, have chapter all of the United States, including the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs. These groups usually meet a few times a year. CHADD is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “improve the lives of people affected by AD/HD” (chadd. rg). CHADD provides support for parents, children, and adults with ADHD through education, information and communication (chadd. org). CHADD. org offers many e-communities that offer support and education. CHADD also provides a directory of professionals and offers many tips and resources. The internet provides a wealth of resources for parents of children with ADHD. Many websites offer free webinars on many topics including: Boost Brain Functioning, ADHD and Sleep Disorders, Strategies for Dealing with a Child with ADHD, and many others. There are also numerous support groups and forums that parents can join.
Many events and conferences can be found online. Parents can also educate themselves and find physicians, therapists, and social workers to help them with their difficulties. Social Work and AHD Social workers can play many different roles in working with children with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD. Social workers may notice some of their clients exhibit symptoms of ADHD or teachers may refer students to social workers in a school setting. One of the biggest roles a social worker may play is in the treatment of children with ADHD as well as educating parents and families.
When diagnosing ADHD, social workers may ask the parents about the behavior of the child. Psychological and physiological testing may also take place. The social worker may work with the family physician to determine the best course of action. The social worker may also act as a coordinator and change the course of action as needed. Once an accurate diagnoses has been reached, the social worker will most likely educate the parents and any family members about the essentials of ADHD and how the child’s behavior is affected by it (Kottler, 2000).
Many people feel more empowered about the situation they are in when they better understand what is going on (Kottler, 2000). It is important for the social worker to emphasize the positive aspects of ADHD such as creativity and optimism (Kottler, 2000). Social workers can also provide many resources for parents and children with ADHD. They can offer resources such as suggesting support groups, physicians, or respite care. Some social workers may even lead support groups. Support groups can help parents connect with others in the same position and share their concerns.
Sharing experiences can help people understand that they are not alone. Support groups can also be helpful for children with ADHD. The children may also feel less isolated and learn social skills. Conclusion Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can be stressful for families and cause behavioral issues for children. It can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to many other disorders. However, it can be manageable if an accurate diagnosis is found and different treatments are explored.
There are many social workers and other professionals can off support and assist parents of children with ADHD as well as providing resources. References Kottler, S. (200). A social worker’s guide to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: What is it? Who has it? And what should we do about it? . National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from http://www. naswma. org/displaycommon. cfm? an=1&subarticlenbr=362 Mayo Clinic staff. (2011, February 10). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in children. Retrieved from http://www. mayoclinic. om/health/adhd/DS00275 The MTA Cooperative Group. (1999). A 14-month randomized clinical trial of treatment strategies for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, 56:1073-1086. Rader, R. , Mccauley, L. , & Callen, E. C. (April 15, 2009). Current strategies in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. American Family Physician, 79, 8, 657-665. Rodriguez, D. (2009, September 23). Support for parents of ADHD kids. Livestrong. Retrieved July 20, 2011, from http://www. livestrong. com/article/24473-support-parents-adhd-kids/