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Is it ADHD... and Why Do I Need to Know Yet?

by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ACAC, Certified ADHD Parent and Teen Coach,
I.Is it ADHD... and why do I need to know yet?

A.Do you have a nagging feeling that perhaps your child is just a little more active or impulsive than is typical? Or has the school raised concerns that perhaps your child is having trouble paying attention and could be doing a better job getting their work done or following directions? You have heard the term ADHD thrown around, or maybe you were wondering quietly, if it's something you should consider exploring more about. Well, first off, know that your child would be in good company with others such as David Neeleman (founder, Jet Blue), Ty Penington (Extreme Home Makeover) and Michael Phelps (Olympian). I would like to share some basic information about what ADHD is, how it can be diagnosed, why early diagnosis and treatment are so important, and where to learn more about ADHD and it's treatment

II. What is ADHD... it cover's more than you might realize

A. About 5 - 9% of children have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Note that this includes those children who are diagnosed without the Hyperactivity (formally referred to as ADD). ADHD is a neurological disorder that is a result of an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It has been recognized as a legitimate diagnosis by The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and the U.S. Department of Education. B. While most people are aware that the primary symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity, and in some cases hyperactivity, many people do not realize that equally present in most cases is a degree of emotional dysregulation: a greater than appropriate difficulty managing one's emotions (inhibiting or moderating one's behavior, self-soothing or calming down from strong emotions, or refocusing attention after an emotional event). In addition, there are several conditions that often accompany ADHD and can sometimes mask or distract from the diagnosis such as learning disabilities, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression.

III. How is ADHD diagnosed?

A. There is no single to diagnose a ADHD. A licensed health professional with specific knowledge about ADHD needs to gather information about the child's behavior in various settings and conditions. A medical professional must also rule out other factors such as hearing or vision problems, family stressors, or other medical or psychiatric problems that may have similar symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV has standard diagnostic criteria used to properly diagnose ADHD. It can be found at:

IV. What is the value in finding out if it's ADHD rather than waiting and seeing how a child develops?

A. Very often parents and professionals prefer to take a "wait and see" approach when it comes to monitoring childhood development. Often children do mature and develop at different paces and will outgrow difficulties that are present early on. We know now, however, that early intervention for ADHD, just as with speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy, can have positive life altering results. Knowing specific practices for parenting and teaching a child with ADHD can go a long way in safeguarding them from some of the negative habits and behaviors that may otherwise develop. Children with ADHD often experience social difficulties, and learning difficulties that, when addressed, can protect them from some of the bruises on their self esteem and self image down the road. When parents are educated about how ADHD may affect their child, they can closely monitor and partner with their child to create that all important special protective bond.

V. Where can you learn more?

A. Fortunately today, there are so many types of resources available now to learn about the symptoms and treatment of ADHD. It is always important to be sure that the information you are collecting, however, is factual and not anecdotal or ladened with opinion. For reliable web sources, check websites such as,, and And for excellent books, read Driven to Distraction by Dr. Ned Hallowell Taking Charge of ADHD by Dr. Russell Barkley. Also, seek out lectures at your school, library, or local community center.

VI. How is ADHD treated?

A. We have learned so much in the past decade that helps us improve the lives of children and adults who are diagnosed with ADHD. One of the greatest treatments available is gaining a firm knowledge of how ADHD is specifically affecting the person individually, as it impacts each person differently. Medication for ADHD has been around since 1937 and is still recognized as an important part of treatment for many individuals with ADHD because of it's safety and benefits. Finally, Therapy and ADHD Coaching are also recognized as beneficial, as much for the parents as for the child with ADHD. The ultimate success of the child will be greatly determined by how much the parents help the child recognize not just how to work with their difficulties, but how to capitalize on their tremendous strengths and potential as a result of their unique wiring.

Cindy Goldrich is a ADHD Parent and Teen Coach. In addition to Individual Coaching, she conduct a Seven-Session Parent Coaching Workshops Series that explores the full impact of ADHD on your child beyond just focus, attention, and impulse challenges. Coaching is available in person on Long Island, New York and via phone Nationwide. Visit for articles, resources, and information about upcoming speaking engagements or call her at: 516-802-0583

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.

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