Early Intervention Helps Children with ADHD

Posted March 24, 2008 by

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The earlier you can diagnose ADHD, the better. Kids often struggle in school and in the community due to a lack of help and from a misunderstanding of their condition. This often leads to frustration, increased inappropriate behavior, poor academic achievement, and eventually low self-esteem and depression, not to mention an increased likelihood for substance abuse. Early and appropriate intervention can prevent these serious consequences, and instead promote healthy development with the prospects for a more satisfying life in childhood and as an adult. If you suspect that your child may have ADHD, start with a trip to a trusted pediatrician and go from there.

And if your child is diagnosed with ADHD, I would recommend that parents look into the type of cognitive behavioral therapy or program that provides cognitive exercises and simple biofeedback to improve attention, concentration and executive functioning that leads to improved academic achievement and success in other activities. Make sure it helps children to understand the difference in brain function, and to learn coping strategies that foster a positive self-image, as well.

About

Dr Robert Myers is a child psychologist with more than 25 years of experience working with children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and learning disabilities and is the creator of the Total Focus Program. Dr Myers is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine School of Medicine. "Dr Bob" has provided practical information for parents as a radio talk show host and as editor of Child Development Institute's website, 4parenting.com which reaches 3 million parents each year. Dr. Myers earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

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  1. Elisabeth Wilkins Report

    @Robin: In my opinion, you should trust your instincts here. After all, you know your daughter best, no matter what the school is telling you. And what harm would it do to test her for ADHD, after all? You’ll just have more information when you’re done.

    I also recommend you read this article by Dr. Bob Myers, Empowering Parents’ resident ADHD expert. It’s called “Under the Radar: How Girls with ADHD Go Undetected”.

    http://www.empoweringparents.com/under-the-radar.php

    Good luck, and please let us know how it goes!

    Reply
  2. Robin Report

    I am new to this website. I’ve been brought here because I have a daughter who is 9 years old and in the 4th grade. She has had issues since 1st grade with her organization skills, forgetting to pass in homework, forgetting books, clothes, everything. I finally got in contact with a therapist who recommends testing for ADD. I’ve spoken to her school about this but they are 99.9% sure this is not the issue and she just needs to take responsibility. My husband and I are on opposite sides of this issue. I feel like something isn’t right and want to figure it out, he feels she is just a kid and I’m making a big deal out of it. The therapist says if we don’t do anything by the time she is in 6,7, or 8th grade she will hit a wall and be tagged a behavior problem. I’m going at lunch to buy the book Driven to Distraction. Then hopefully both my husband and I can read it and make a decision whether going the route of testing, etc. Any help is so welcome.

    Reply
  3. Dr. Robert Myers Report

    Dear Ida Rivera: All stimulants are effective in the treatment for ADHD. However, there are individual differences in how a child responds. You should discuss this with your child’s physician. Perhaps changing the dose or administration schedule will improve the situation. A switch to another medication may be in order. Also, medication can only go so far. Adding appropriate psychological and behavioral interventions in a situation like this may provide the additional help needed to achieve the treatment goals you are looking for.

    Reply
  4. Pam Mc Report

    I was 46 when I was diagnosed with ADD. I can tell you I had academic struggles always when testing indicated I was capable. All I heard was blaming comments – she is lazy – not applying herself….. Not great for self esteem – self blaming became a daily bashing. My Mom took me to the fat doctor when I was 12. I was given the same drug I now take (adderal – then obetrol) and I felt normal, for the first time. The Human body will seek what it needs – from 12 on I was that seeker. Please medicate your children. We are wired differently and for whatever reason these drugs slow us down enough to focus on the job at hand – not on the thousand other things going on around us. Look at the meth problem and ask why this is so common. Undiagnosed ADD – peer pressure – who knows! Epileptics take drugs that have adverse effects but seizures are worse. Diabetics take insulin. It goes on and on. It is our job as parents to weigh out such issues. Make a list of positive ways the drug would help and do the same for life without drug therapy. Which is longer? This is a great tool to begin with.

    Reply
  5. Ida Rivera Report

    My 7-year old son was diagnosed with ADHD and is currently taking Focalin XR. Although I’ve noticed a tremendous difference, he is still hyper and has outbursts. When the medication wears off, its almost impossible to be around him, making it very frustrating and difficult for both of us. I really want to enjoy the few hours I spend with him after I arrive from work and before his bedtime. Is there anything you suggest to help make these few hours more enjoyable? Is there any other medication other than Focalin XR, which he might benefit from where the effects last longer, but that would not suppress his appetite for a longer period than what Foaclin XR supppresses it for? He is a very picky eater, and has always had a small appetite even before Focalin XR.

    Reply
  6. Ronald Lee Report

    Hi, my oldest is 6 and went through 3 open heart surgeries. She is currently on Stratara for her ADD. I was wondering if she can grow out of it, and what are the possiblities that she contracted ADD from the steroids the drs. gave her to help prepare her for the repairatory surgeries?

    Reply
  7. Bob Toll Report

    Dear Bob:

    Our son(five years old) has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. We are looking into treatments and are very concerned about medicating him for a number of reasons. One being any long-term health issues, growth concerns, cancer or other unknown (as yet) side affects drugs like Concerta can have. Then there is the issue of preserving his personality. We don’t want to drug him down if you will.
    We have recently heard of an all natural treatment called Attend. This is a homeopathic treatment that supposedly doesn’t have the negative side affects some other treatments have. Are you familiar with Attend and does it work?

    Reply
  8. Ray Report

    I am concerned about getting my child into a medication situation because of the risk to organs, as well as risk of cancer. Even if the rate of incidence for either is tiny, it seems to me the possibility of developing liver and heart problems or cancer later in life make it a deal breaker. It comes down to an ethical decision whether to give psychotropic drugs to someone still in physiological development.

    Reply
  9. Dr. Robert Myers Report

    To Lisa and others who have questions about the effects of ADHD medication on their children: All research substantiates the fact that children who receive ADHD medications are less likely to use drugs than their ADHD peers who do not receive medication. There is research that shows that there may be a small number of kids who use ADHD medication and have a slight reduction in growth, however, it is very minor. Often if a child’s growth is monitored closely, any deviation from their original growth can be corrected during a “drug holiday” during the summer, ie going off meds during the summer, or changing medications, as some have more effect on appetite than others. Kids on ADHD meds tend not to want to eat because the drugs can often have an appetite suppressant effect. My son wouldn’t eat lunch when he was on medication, so my wife ended up sending him to school with a lunchtime snack. He made up for it in the afternoon when he came home and his appetite came back! As an adult, he’s now 6’4″.

    Reply
  10. Lisa Report

    Hi . My 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD with high impulsivity… She had been placed on Concerta and we cannot believe the difference! We are “almost norma”l.. hahaha What are the long term affects of this drug? Do the benefits outweigh the risks???

    Reply
  11. Heather Report

    After two years of struggling with my kids, I’ve decided to put them on Concerta. My biggest concerns are the long-term effects, like addiction and stunted growth. Do you have any real stats or first hand experience with this? Could you post the risks and benefits with the medications on your web sight? It would really help to get proper and realistic insight to the world of meds.

    Reply
  12. Robin rudin Report

    my 9 year old daughter is severely ADDH and has been so since birth!We placed her on meds before starting kindergarten. Our goal was to be sure she did not miss any foundational information and that she would have the best academic advantage possible. She has also been in a private school (regular) with small classes and even smaller break out groups for vocabulary/spelling and math.She is academically on top of her class despite her significant attending issues. Her teachers have always tried our suggestions to keep her focused and organized. Disorganization is a major problem!!She loves school and is motivated to get her work in although it does take lots of parent support to get to work.Once engaged in her homework or project she will get it done.There is no way she could get through her day without meds. We do not use meds for homework or extra curricula activities. I prefer to work on her attending and focus issues at home where we can problem-solve together.She is bright and is making it in the academic environment. Without meds and a smaller environment school would be challenging. Noisy environments (even with meds) would not work for her.For some children meds level the field and allow them to concentrate, learn, focus and excel.I started early but knew it would set the stage for how she felt about school, learning and herself.

    Reply
  13. Elisabeth Wilkins Report

    Bob » Here are the links to all our articles on EP that deal with ADHD…so far.

    http://www.empoweringparents.com/articles.php?tag=adhd&opt=list

    http://empoweringparents.com/blog/author/drbob/

    By the way, we welcome any ideas from our readers on ADHD issues you’d like to hear about! Please email me at with your suggestions.

    Reply
  14. Marj Report

    Hi I’m a grandmother 57 years old and have 3 grandchildren that live with me and over the last few years these kids have had the same problems that their parents have had..low self esteem, trouble in school, trouble with social skills, lieing, stealing, etc. I was very concerned that after all these years of doctors, medication, hospitals, courts, arrests, no jobs etc. that this was going to happen again in this generation..so again, doctors, phycologists, natural products to help with focos and life I’m still getting the same results..problems..then by accident i stombled on the website of ADD or ADHD and I went further and spoke to the pedi doctor about this condition and was given a questionare to fill out along with the teachers of these children…Alas, ADD & ADHD is in my family and quess what? I have it too. So after taking the medication..all of us are doing excellent grades have gone up, attention span is much better, compliments are being offered by school. Social life is much better, we are now playing baseball, and basketball. We can have sleepovers and friends over for dinner and movies and life is so much better.. for me I can now save money, pay down my bills, pay my bills on time, get compliments from bosses at work, I can shop and find bargins instead of running in and out because I could not stand the crowds…so after 50 years of suffering and not knowing what was wrong with me and went every where to find out the answer with no answers..my life is growing very well…but let me say on last thing..you are going to have to bring it to the doctors, because all of these kids have been thru school, doctors, phycologist, phyciatrist, school testing and not once has any of these resourses said anything about ADD or ADHD. Read the books at the library, go one line, get the questionaire from your pedi. find out what the behavior is and don’t be surprised if it is ADD or ADHD..it is hereditary.

    Reply
  15. Anna D. Report

    Dear Dr. Bob,
    I been reading your news letter and I have a 10 year old son, he has been tested by a child psychologist, the Dr. gave me a questionnaire for his teachers last year, but he tells me that according to the answers that the teachers gave him, he entered it in the computer and according to the ratings that he got after it clearly tells/shows him that my son does not have ADD or AHDD and he recommended that I take him to a reading specialist and get him tested for learning disability. this testing turn out to be ok.. no problem there…
    But then again when I read your article on this, to me my son has so many symptoms, I printed your articles on this and I showed it to my husband and he does not agree with me, now I spend more time with my son than my husband does because of his work… I would like to take him to a different doctor for a second opinion but I can’t find anyone in my area…is there any other treatment other than drugs… that could take care of this problem…
    Thank you so much for all your help….

    Reply
  16. Bob Report

    I would like direction for a 14 year old male with ADHD.
    Please provide previous articles and recommendations.

    Thanks,

    Reply
  17. Va. Report

    Dr. Bob: My college sophomore wants to be tested for ADD. I suspect that I had ADD in the 60’s and 70’s. Had to work hard to concentrate, but made it OK. His reasoning is that peers have the advantage of ritilin for study. I oppose this! we were exposed to this injustice in high school. I agree that he can be tested, but I object to the advantage ADD drugs give students. What can be done? Can you recommend a physician for this testing in my community? I like your recommendations for focussing exercises. THX, Va.

    Reply
  18. DadwithADHD Report

    I have adhd and so does my 7 year old son. I was never diagnosed with it (I grew up in the 70s and 80s–the doctors in the rural community where I lived had no clue why I was so “hyper”) When it started showing up in my son, I knew what the signs were from the get go. Thankfully, I have a much better handle on how to raise him than my parents did with me. Thanks, Dr. Bob. I completely agree with your “prescription” here. It’s working great for our family.

    Reply

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