Written by Dr. Christopher Babbitt, Clinical Psychologist
Almost all children have times when their attention or behavior veers out of control. However, for some children, these types of behaviors are more than an occasional problem. Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have behavior problems that are so frequent and severe that they interfere with their ability to function adequately on a daily basis. In the fall, many parents and teachers begin to have concerns about potential ADHD issues in the classroom. First of all, ADHD is the real thing. It’s a legitimate issue that for some children as well as adults can be a very serious problem.
At Western Wisconsin Health, our team of primary care providers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors work together to ensure a diagnosis is applied correctly. Ensuring that correct diagnosis is accurate takes some time and that’s why we carefully assess as many different aspects of your child’s situation as we can. We want to rule out what is NOT happening as well as what IS, before we make the final decision about a diagnosis.
Once the diagnosis has been established, the conversation moves to what we can do to help you and your child cope with the problem as effectively as possible. Many times we recommend the use of a stimulant medication for ADHD. Many parents don’t want to hear that they may need to use medication with their child. They worry about side effects, both short- and long-term, as well as whether their child may need to take the medicine for an extended period.
In the psychology field, we talk a lot about the very real problems that may occur if we don’t use medication to assist in the treatment of this illness. Research shows, that if we don’t effectively treat this illness, it can lead to several different issues emerging such as: dropping out of school, an increased risk for the child to begin smoking or using substances, an increased risk for legal problems, and many more.
Stimulants are safe when used correctly. They have a very short life within the body so that within 8 to 10 hours after taking it, most signs of the medicine are out of the system. This is very different than antidepressants, for example, which need to build up in the bloodstream over time in order to be effective.
Some parents will opt to try a behavior plan as another way to approach treating ADHD. While this can be an effective option, it can sometimes cause a struggle for parents, school personnel, and the child. Most children, by the time they get referred for an evaluation have a difficult history of problems within the academic and home environment. We want to try and get on top of that as quickly as possible because once a reputation has been established it is hard to reverse.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for ADHD assessment, please contact us at 715-684-1111.
3 Core Symptoms of ADHD
Children who experience inattention may:
- Be easily distracted or become easily bored
- Have trouble focusing
- Have problems completing tasks or activities
- Daydream frequently
- Struggle with following instructions
- Switch from one activity to another frequently
- Be forgetful
- Have difficulty processing information quickly
Children who experience impulsivity may:
- Be impatient
- Have difficulty taking turns or waiting for their turn
- Frequently interrupt others
- Act or speak without thinking
Children who are hyperactive may:
- Talk excessively
- Fidget and squirm
- Be in constant motion
- Have trouble sitting quietly or still
- Run, jump, or climb around constantly