“Kids Will be Kids”
Michael was a loveable, spirited child. He wiggled, giggled, fidgeted and moved all the time. He couldn’t sit still in kindergarten. His classmate, Olivia, was dreamy. Her head was often described as being “in the clouds”, and she frequently spent story time thinking about the flowers growing in her family’s front yard or the fairies she hoped to find among those flowers. Both Michael and Olivia were delightful, charming children who loved school. Their teacher expected them to be wiggly, giggly, and dreamy because that’s who kindergarteners are; often kinesthetic learners and possessors of boundless energy, doing what children do. After all, kids will be kids.
As both children progressed in elementary school, their fidgetiness and dreaminess began to impact their social, emotional, and academic progress. Their parents ultimately decided to have an evaluation performed just in case they needed some additional support. As it turned out, both children were diagnosed with ADHD.
What IS ADHD?
ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults, and is more common in boys than girls. Children do not outgrow ADHD, but their symptoms can change as they grow and develop into adulthood. No specific cause of ADHD has been identified, but there is evidence that there is a genetic component to ADHD. Other causes may be prematurity, brain injury, and maternal substance or alcohol use.
Symptoms of ADHD vary depending on what type of ADHD is present. There are three classifications of ADHD:
- Predominantly-inattentive presentation
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation
- Combined presentation
People who have predominantly inattentive ADHD are easily distracted, may have difficulty paying attention to details or following instructions, and may easily forget details of their daily lives, including basic self-care like taking medication or eating before they get hungry.
Those who have predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD symptoms may be fidgety, constantly need to move around, and may impulsively grab things from others or interrupt conversations.
A combined presentation would mean that a person with ADHD may experience both attentional and behavioral challenges.
ADHD symptoms can overlap with symptoms of other disorders, including anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, and learning disabilities. An ADHD diagnosis is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that other physical illnesses, including sleep disorders, have to be ruled out. Before an ADHD diagnosis is reached, the person seeking a diagnosis should have a medical check-up, including hearing and vision tests.
I Have Been Diagnosed. What’s Next?
There are many tools available for the management of symptoms of ADHD. Like all conditions, people who have ADHD will benefit from taking good care of their body, such as:
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Getting physical activity
- Consistently getting an appropriate amount of sleep
Those general health strategies are often not enough. Depending on the severity of ADHD symptoms, it may be managed through medications (either stimulant or non-stimulant medications) and psychotherapy. Therapy can play a pivotal role in a child or adult’s treatment plan. Additionally, behavioral adjustments on the parts of both the person with ADHD and their families can go a long way in improving everyone’s quality of life.
You Are Not Alone – Support is Available
While ADHD may feel like a daunting challenge, there is support available. For those living in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, NY, Jason Meisel, NP, at Meisel NP in Psychiatry, provides both psychotherapeutic support and medication management. He performs a thorough diagnostic examination to formulate each individual’s plan for effective management of their ADHD symptoms.
Although there is no “cure”, ADHD can be effectively managed through a variety of modalities that can enable those with it to live successful lives in which they are happy and fulfilled.
If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD and its impact on day-to-day life, reach out to Meisel NP Psychiatry. You’ll find a very patient-centered approach to care from board-certified, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, Jason Meisel, NP.
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Disclaimer: The information contained here was not written by a medical doctor and is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for medical advice.