Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder---ADHD

-”a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development” (DSM-5, 2013)

 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, (DSM-5) is the diagnostic tool utilized by all mental health professionals. According to the most recent publication in 2013, 5% of all children had been diagnosed with or met the criteria for ADHD. The CDC, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, conducts a National Survey of Children's Health which determined, based upon 2016 results, that 6.1 million children (aged 4-17 years) had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives. This is roughly 9.4 % of all children. The CDC also reported that 1 out of 3 children with ADHD also likely has an anxiety disorder and 17% also likely experience depression.

 

This means that about 1 out of 10 kids have ADHD, about 2-3 in any given classroom. If they are exhibiting more hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, (which more boys typically do), they are likely getting A LOT of negative feedback from the world;  from teachers, peers, parents, bus drivers, siblings, coaches, etc. Their behavior may be driving the people around them crazy so they hear their names associated with negative commands like no, stop it, quit that, not now, leave me alone, geez ... All leading to them not feeling great about themselves. Hello anxiety, hello depression...

 

Now if they are more inattentive, they're likely sitting around, staring into space, getting ignored in the classroom (most often girls). If they are bright enough, no one may notice that they have ADHD at all? But, they may be a little impulsive socially, or really forgetful, have trouble studying, have trouble paying attention to conversations at the lunch table with friends, not know what's going on, and not feel great about themselves because they know something is off. Hello anxiety, hello depression...

 

Helping address these behavioral symptoms can most definitely address emotional symptoms as well as combat that negative feedback they get from the world. And not many people talk about how the ADHD child, teen, or even adult responds to emotional situations. This is a neglected area of research as well as pop culture attention. And often a wonderful Aha moment for parents when it is explained as part of the ADHD process. There is such a thing as emotional impulsivity. When something happens that is good, the family reacts positively and the child with ADHD is over the moon about it. When something happens that is bad, the family is sad and the child with ADHD is absolutely devastated about it. Giant reactions to emotional situations can be and should be expected. Learning to modulate these reactions can be very helpful, both from an emotional standpoint as well as a social one.  Check out this article about how much I love working with individuals with ADHD.

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