The Many Faces Of Attention Deficit Disorder
Linda Wechter-Ashkin Ph.D NCSP BC-TMHC ADHD CCSP
Attention Deficit Disorder used to be separated into ADD which meant the child was inattentive and ADHD which meant that the child was hyperactive and impulsive. The new DSM-V has combined the terms into Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder and then created subcategories of inattentive presentation, hyperactive presentation, and combined presentation. Children are being identified younger and younger which to me is good. Identifying a child young allows them to start to get accommodations at school early so that they can meet with success. Accommodations can range from extra time to do their classwork and preferential seating, to having special equipment and a 1-1 paraprofessional to assist them with assignments. Many worry about early labels but if your child can’t pay attention and is running around the room being disruptive why not get them the accommodations that are available. Medication is another story. I’m not a psychiatrist but my thought is that there is a lot to do before considering it, but by middle school if strategies and accommodations aren’t working it’s something to consider.
The interesting thing is that ADHD has many faces. It is the little boy staring out the window who is very sweet and agreeable, but off task most of the time. It is also the little girl that is under the table, poking her friends, refusing to do her assignments, and crying all of the time. It is the middle school student who always did well but now with multiple classes and teaching styles they are doing poorly. Because ADHD affects understanding of social norms and consequences it is often the middle school student who is all of a sudden being rejected by peers or who has started to make poor choices. It is the college student who did well throughout high school but with the additional challenges and executive functioning requirements of college they are struggling. It is the adult that was never diagnosed but struggles with initiation, organization, time management, self-monitoring, and procrastination. They are late, scattered, and spent countless hours trying to find lost items.
If you think you or your chlld may have an attentional deficit get an assessment. Not a one-page survey that you answer but a true assessment by a psychologist that sifts through and figures out what the right diagnosis is for you or your child. There is crossover as we will talk about. Different diagnosis can mimic each other so you really want a trained psychologist to make the determination.