Getting Focused on the New School Year in Tehachapi
Every year, shortly after school starts here in Tehachapi, there is a lot of activity among teachers and parents about children who have a difficult time staying focused, or staying seated, in the classroom setting. So the question naturally comes up, “Does the child have ADHD?”
So how do professionals figure out if a child has ADHD or is just immature, or has a different set of problems? Lots of things can be happening in the life of a child that might make him or her restless, distracted, or even impulsive. Of all the possibilities – ranging from food sensitivities, to childhood depression or anxiety – the most common is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known simply as “ADHD.”
State of the Art, Not Guesses
This is why a good assessment of the child or teen is so very important. At our Bear Valley Springs office, just outside of Tehachapi, we use parent interviews, child interviews, the Stroop Color Word Test (to assess for head injuries or dyslexia), and the Test of Variables of Attention also called the TOVA test. Using these tools, and investing this amount of time, can give a pretty accurate diagnosis, at least with children over the age of eight. Children younger than eight are a bit harder to be certain about.
ADHD is one of the most common childhood behavior disorders, and somewhere between 5% and 9% of all children have ADHD. Of all children referred to counselors, more are referred for ADHD than for any other reason. ADHD is very treatable with several effective options ranging from medications to alternative therapies, counseling, and educational interventions.
ADHD impacts individuals in four main areas of their life:
- Inattention, which causes people to have problems paying attention to routine or boring tasks, or staying focused on a task long enough to finish the task, especially if the task is not very interesting.
- Impulsivity, which is a lack of self-control. Impulsive behaviors, or choices, can cause havoc in relationships, work, school, or life. Saying things, or doing things without thinking first, or considering the consequences, is a pretty classic symptom of ADHD in both children and adults.
- Hyperactivity, which is “excessive, non-goal directed, motor activity.” Many (though not all) with ADHD are “bouncy,” hyperactive, always “on the go,” and restless. The standard line is that they act as if they are “driven by a motor.”
- Easily Bored , unless the task is very stimulating, like a video game or TV program or outside playing, those with ADHD are often easily bored by a task – especially bored by homework, math tests, or doing taxes, and many of these tasks just never get done.
After helping children and teens with ADHD for about 30 years, I offer some free resources to parents that just might be helpful. The ADHD Information Library is an online resource with over 230 articles that I’ve written through the years on ADHD at http://Newideas.net. Another resource is at http://ADDinSchool.com where I have about 500 classroom ideas to help children and teens with ADHD be more successful at school. For parents interested in trying some alternative treatment ideas, our ADHD Diet Program ebook is available at http://ADHDdiet.info, and we also recommend VAXA’s excellent products Attend and Extress. If you would like to know more, please feel free to call or email me directly.
Many health insurance plans cover most or all of the fees for these services. Call for more details.
Ask yourself, “What are you really looking for? How do you want things to turn out? How do you want life to be?” We can help to get from where you are now, to where you want to be in life.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource. “I like to help people, and I know stuff.” Call him today at (661) 972-5953 and get started.