During a seminar for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, teachers and parents interacted with each other and the moderator discussing questions and stories of their children with ADHD. Toward the end of the meeting, the mother of a young child with ADHD got up and said, "You people are terrible. You act as if there's no hope." Someone from the back of the room responded, "You're starting to understand."


The National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH subdivides ADHD into three divisions; hyperactive-impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive-inattentive. NIMH, defines hyperactive-impulsive as unable to focus on a task, easily distracted and moving from one thing to another quickly, easily bored and abandoning a task, not completing project, losing things easily and lacking the ability to follow instructions. If they are hyperactive, they may be constantly talking, squirming, and interrupting. They have difficulty waiting. The inattentive person doesn't exhibit hyperactive symptoms. They may not interrupt, but they don't pay attention, and have no idea what's going on. People with this form of ADHD are often overlooked as having a problem.


The cause of ADHD and hyperactivity is unknown, though there are some promising theories. There are some indications that it is genetic and shows up in the same families. There are also indications that it is connected with brain injury or, loss of oxygen for short time. For a long time, sugar was thought to make the problem worse. However, tests haven't supported that theory. The cause of the problem remains uncertain.


Because many of the symptoms are all part of children's behavior to a greater or lesser degree, accurate diagnosis can be difficult. Sometimes the patient has other medical problems with symptoms that mask or overshadow the ADHD symptoms. This problem is present in boys far greater than girls, and these misbehaviors are normal for boys to a greater or lesser degree. It is hard to know if the child is misbehaving, or needs treatment. The diagnosis depends on the child's behavior at home and in school. The school may perform an evaluation of the child's behavior to assist the doctor in making a diagnosis.


For the best treatment, the doctor should be aware of which portions of hyperactivity, inattention or impulsiveness the child exhibits. This will allow him to prescribe the proper treatment. The treatment can be medicine, behavioral training, or a combination of the two. Prescribing medicine is a fine line. The child should not be medicated to make it easier for others, but medication shouldn't be denied if it helps the patient. Often, both medication and behavioral training is used.

However, medication should not be feared. It can be the key to ushering the patient into a new world where things aren't buzzing and confusing. It will allow them to function and perform well. There is a lot of pressure to keep patients off medication, but observe the results to determine if the medication is a plus.

Children With Other Disabilities

Unfortunately, ADHD seems to happen in conjunction with other physical and mental disabilities. When this happens, everything becomes more difficult. Because symptoms of disabilities often overlap ADHD symptoms, it becomes difficult to separate them to determine the diagnosis. Problems associated with vision, hearing, learning disabilities, can be misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Living with ADHD

Living with an ADHD child can be a nightmare. The household centers on the ADHD patient. It requires organizing everything, keeping a rigid schedule, and being consistent. After doing that, one has to hope the ADHD patient will follow the program. Dealing with ADHD is a family project that includes the parents and all of the siblings. This often causes problems with the siblings, and becomes more difficult when the children become teenagers. It is advisable to find a family-counseling program that deals with disabilities for the parents and siblings. The divorce rate is much higher than normal for parents with children with ADHD and other disabilities. Some parents don't discuss the problems with people who don't have children with similar problems. Parents of ADHD children can tell after a few minutes discussion that an uninitiated person is clueless. "That's a problem with all boys. You should take him off the meds. They'll snap out of it," are a few common comments.

Dealing with ADHD is difficult. Sometimes the child will overcome the problem. Sometimes they will have to take medication all their lives. A person with ADHD can overcome the problems and function well as an adult. An adult can realize the problem and work around it. A child isn't able to do that. Parents are willing to take knowledgeable suggestions, and stick with anything that works. If it stops working , they try something else. Like any other mental or physical illness, each case is different and should be evaluated on its own merit.