May I have your attention, PLEASE?

Nov 7, 2011   //   Blog, Health, Research, Special Needs

by Kathryn Wage

It’s likely that at some time in your life you have thought about Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe you know someone who has this diagnosis and takes medication to manage the symptoms. Possibly you have experienced one or more of the symptoms (distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity) yourself and have wondered if you fit the diagnostic criteria.

Currently in medicine and psychology there is no fail-safe way to diagnose or treat ADHD so each individual becomes a test case, with trial and error as part of the assessment.

In spite of many well-meaning theories, we now know that ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar (though these factors may make symptoms worse for some people). We also know that most people with ADHD do not generally have a history of head injury. In many cases there may be multiple family members who exhibit ADHD, therefore genetic and biological factors come into play.

The common first line of treatment is prescription medication designed to increase the brain’s ability to attend. While medication is helpful and sometimes necessary, it is not a quick fix to the problems experienced by those with ADHD. The optimum effect of many ADHD drugs lasts for about 11 months and gradually is reduced over time. Additionally there are side effects that need to be factored in the cost/benefit analysis.

It often takes a creative approach to manage symptoms and encourage development of skills that will counterbalance the ADHD symptoms. A more holistic approach to addressing ADHD would include:using medication possibly on a short-term basis, participating in cognitive training programs to improve attention, employing neuro-feedback training, teaching cognitive strategies for self-management, providing avenues to “use up” excess energy with exercise breaks, modifying the learning or work environment to allow standing and moving, or managing time in a more flexible manner. Different approaches and modifications work for children and adults depending on the severity of symptoms, the work environment, the family life-style and the other individual strengths and weaknesses.

At the California Learning Connection we understand that there are “different strokes for different folks” and work with you to determine the best combination to help with daily life. Our occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and certified tutors can provide you with guidance and help to continue down the road to personal growth and self-control.

Center For Communication Skills, Speech & Language Pathologists, Fresno, CA