Sweetwater  Pediatrics

News & Events

Newsletter #1 for 2014

 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

 

The term ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is becoming more commonly used in our society.  Often times, parents, teachers, and those who observe children closely wonder if a child who is “too active” might have ADHD.  It is important to distinguish between a child who is normally being active by nature verses one who actually has ADHD.  A child with ADHD has core symptoms which include inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, all of which affect daily living, family interactions, social interactions and academic achievements in a significant way. In addition, these symptoms must manifest early in the childhood, usually starting no later than early elementary school years.   ADHD can be diagnosed fairly easily through objective questionnaire such as Vanderbilt ADHD assessment and other psychological testing tools. 

 

Once ADHD is diagnosed, there are two main ways to treat ADHD: medication and behavioral management. 

 

One way to manage behavior is where parent breaks down work into smaller increments and praises each time child accomplishes each incremental work.  For example, if a child does homework for 15 minutes without redirection, parent praises child for that specific accomplishment.  There must be a consequence for positive and negative behavior.  For example, a star sticker is given for each good behavior and once stickers accumulate to certain number, child gets a prize.  On the other hand, if child displays a negative behavior, he has to forfeit something of value to child such as computer game time.  Teacher must also play a vital role by informing the parent on daily basis how child behaved in classroom so parent has chance to modify his behavior when child returns home from school. In addition, once ADHD is formally diagnosed, school system can offer specialized education (IEP, individual education plan) to further tailor to how child can learn best. 

 

The other way to treat ADHD is through medication.  Most medications are stimulants which have been used for quite a long time and have been proven to be safe for use for ADHD.  There are now few non-stimulant FDA approved medications for ADHD as well. Possible side effects include irritability, headaches, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and insomnia.  No studies have proven any significant cardiovascular side effects. Stimulants include two main classes:  methylphenidates and amphetamines.  Non-stimulants include atomoxetine, guanfacine, and clonidine.   Stimulant class and non-stimulant are FDA approved.

 

The details of these medications will be provided in the next newsletter.

 

 

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