Common Questions Regarding Attention Deficit Disorder
There are many misconceptions and questions regarding Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD, ADHD). The following are some of the more common ones I hear in my practice:
1. “How can I tell if my child has ADD?”
There are a lot of misinformation and uniformed opinions available about this disorder, and unfortunately it may often even come from people who are supposed to know. Most people think in terms of symptoms, and this is logical as it is real world problems a person experiences that gets our attention and matters the most. However, these should not be used as the determining criteria as to whether or not the disorder is present in a person. There are other problems that can cause ADD symptoms, which are often missed, and if an assumption is made that ADD is present without the proper testing, a big problem can occur. In misreading the real cause of the child’s symptoms, and assuming it is ADD, one can miss finding and correcting the true underlying cause(s). This unfortunately happens frequently. The only objective way to determine if someone’s symptoms are truly coming from ADD is to examine the underlying neurological processes and see if the misalignment that causes the disorder is actually present. This can be done easily through a simple form of testing by the proper professional.
2. “Does my child have to be hyperactive to have ADD or ADHD?”
No, there are actually three distinct forms of the disorder: Primarily Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined Form (a combination of the first two forms). Hyperactivity as a symptom is not uncommon, but certainly not necessary for the disorder to be present. The inattentive form of the disorder is quite prevalent.
3. “Is medication the only effective form of treatment for ADD/ADHD?”
The common serious side-effects and rigors of medication unfortunately cause many parents to deny even the possibility of the disorder’s presence in their children. As a result, proper testing and, in most cases, relatively easy treatment of the disorder does not take place and the child is left to unnecessarily struggle and often fail both academically and socially. There is a highly successful, side-effect free treatment option (which we shall discuss later).
4. “My child has been doing fine until she hit third grade. Now, all of a sudden, she is struggling. Can ADHD come on out of nowhere like this?”
While the sudden onset of the disorder is possible, particularly when there is some type of brain trauma, in most cases what is being described here is a case where ADHD has always been present, but the effects are now starting to manifest. The high intelligence typically found with the disorder can mask its effects until the cumulative complexity of material being learned and/or the increasing abstractness of the subjects (math for example) finally catches up with them and becomes overwhelming. This is one of the points at which it can really come to a parents’ attention, although earlier testing and treatment is very important.
As we mentioned earlier, there is an important alternative to medication in the treatment of this disorder. Neurofeedback is a drug and side-effect free procedure in which the individual learns to retrain the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.