February 1, 2005

About Shokooh

Bacheh porroo

Dear Shokooh,

I have a 10-year old son who is getting into a lot of trouble at school. His teacher says it's impossible to get him to finish work and that he won't pay attention to class. She says that he has Attention Deficit Disorder and may need medication. He isn't hyperactive, but is very "spacey." I am very worried about him, but my whole family tells me that he is a "bacheh porroo" and will grow out of it. What should I do?


Dear J,

I can understand and appreciate your concern -- the stage of figuring out what is going on with a child can be the scariest time for a parent. You are gathering information and seeking help, an outstanding response.

In the United States, nearly 1.6 million children are diagnosed with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder, or AD/HD. AD/HD is a very real neurobehavioral disorder that impairs functioning and can, if untreated, pose challenges to a child's life at home, at school, and in relationships.

There are three types of AD/HD: inattentive type, hyperactive type, and combined type. A child with predominantly inattentive type AD/HD is the type of kid who is easily distracted, is disorganized, forgetful, daydreaming, and just can't seem to focus or pay attention.

I would suggest that you spend some time thinking about, and even writing down, what makes you think that your child may have attention problems. You say that you are very worried about your son. Why? What are you observing? How long have these things been doing on? Once you have collected your thoughts, I would compare them with what you have heard from his teachers and school. It sounds like members of your family may have a different opinion -- what are they noticing that makes them disagree?

Too often, a child is diagnosed with a learning or attention problem when the truth is that they are having difficulty at school because of hearing or vision problems. Has your son seen his pediatrician about these issues? If not, consider making an appointment so that you can rule out any potential physiological conditions that could be impacting his attention and behavior.

Because AD/HD is a medical condition, I suggest that you consider visiting a licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, someone who specializes in working with children and has experience with AD/HD. Only a mental health professional can diagnose AD/HD with certainty. My colleagues whose research focus is AD/HD spend hours gathering data before diagnosing a child -- they speak with the child, parents, and teachers, they administer various psychological tests, they rule out other conditions, and they carefully examine academic and health records.

If your son does have AD/HD, do not despair! Research has opened up many avenues for the treatment of what can be a frustrating condition that impacts the entire family. There are five key areas for potential treatment: child and family education and training, behavior management, medication, counseling, and appropriate academic accommodations/support. Research indicates that a combination approach is most effective. Work with your child's psychologist or psychiatrist to find the treatment plan that works best for your son.

I have worked firsthand with many bright, happy kids whose AD/HD has been addressed and treated such that it does not interfere with their achievement. A child with AD/HD can absolutely have a happy, successful childhood.

You sound like a very caring and concerned mother, and I wish you the best of luck.

For more information or to find a specialist in your area, please visit the National Resource Center on AD/HD at help4adhd.org.



This column is for general educational purposes only-- it is not a substitute for medical attention, counseling, or therapy of any kind. The Couch and the staff of this website urge you to seek immediate medical attention if you are in an urgent, harmful, or potentially dangerous situation. Psychiatric emergencies or urgent matters should be handled by calling 9-1-1 or going to the nearest emergency room.   Please note that your emails will not be answered on an individual basis and your confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Top

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