ADHD facts and myths

(Provided photo)

Parents have been getting my attention with concerns they have about whether or not their child might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

Let me see if I can focus on those concerns and separate the fact from the fiction.

When do signs appear?

ADHD, though thought of as a school-age disease, can manifest itself during the preschool years.

While most toddlers and preschoolers will demonstrate impulsive or hyperactive behavior at times, your child’s health care professional can help determine what is and is not outside the realm of normal for these behaviors — and if ADHD is diagnosed, get treatment strategies in place even before your young children start kindergarten.

Video games

There are parents who feel their child could not have ADHD because they will play video games for hours. The truth is that children with ADHD will play these games for long periods of time. Why? It is because video games can be highly engaging and stimulating with their visual images, sounds, and interactions with others such that children with ADHD can play them for prolonged periods of time, whereas a classroom may not offer that stimulating environment long enough to keep a child with ADHD engaged and attentive.

Focusing is hard work

Children with ADHD are often labeled lazy and unmotivated when they are just the opposite — they are working hard to stay focused. When they cannot do this without appropriate medication and behavioral strategies, they give up and act out. The sooner you can bring concerns about your child’s behavior to the attention of their health care professional, the better.

Parenting style and diagnosis myths

Most importantly, parents should realize two other myths about ADHD. First, it is not a function of improper or poor parenting, although inconsistent limit-setting by parents can worsen the symptoms. And second — if your child is not diagnosed with ADHD when you thought they had it, your child’s health care professional can still help with diagnosis and treatment of disorders other than ADHD that can present with impulsivity or hyperactivity.

Hopefully, tips like these will make you attentive to recognizing that the more you know about the facts, rather than the fiction regarding ADHD, the more you can help your child with this problem lead a very productive and rewarding life.

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Lewis First, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.


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