Guest Column: Rip Van Winkle is awake and well

October 12, 2011

By Ron Weckerly

The debate about AD/HD is over, and the last five years have shown the truth about AD/HD. Research has shown that the Rip Van Winkle of all diseases is real, and every mainstream educational organization, medical and psychological organization have concluded so in their research.

AD/HD is a genuine brain-based medical disorder, and both adults and children benefit from appropriate treatment.

There are several facts that you need to know:

Fact 1: Within every organization such as educational, psychological and medical in the United States, research has come out stating there is such a thing as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Fact 2: AD/HD is a common and non-discriminatory disorder. AD/HD affects people of every gender, socio-economic, IQ, age and religious background. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 9.5 percent of children have been diagnosed with the syndrome. They found boys were diagnosed two to three times more than girls.

Another important aspect to the findings is the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) found 4.4 percent of adults 18-44 in the United States experience disability and symptoms.

ADD, AD/HD and ADHD all refer to the same syndrome … the only difference is some who are diagnosed have hyperactivity.

Fact 3: Diagnosing AD/HD is a process that is complex.

The person who is being diagnosed must have many symptoms of the disorder in work, school, and with friends in daily life. They must have the various symptoms for at least six months. What complicates behavior is many of the symptoms appear to be like extreme forms of “normal” behavior; to complicate the situation, many other symptoms mimic AD/HD. In a nutshell, every possible cause of a given set of behavior(s) must be taken into consideration.

What colors AD/HD different from other given behaviors is the persistent, excessive and pervasive behavior of the individual. The frequency, intensity and duration of behaviors are hallmark signs of the syndrome. The behaviors become evident in multiple settings and throughout life.

Not one single test confirms a person has AD/HD; diagnosticians rely on many tools to derive whether the person has AD/HD. One of the best predictors is the information he or she has about his or her environment.

Fact 4: Combined conditions

Around 30 percent or 25-40 percent of those diagnosed with AD/HD have a co-existing disorder to go along with the syndrome.

Seventy percent who have the disorder will be treated concerning depression.

Sleep disorders affect people with AD/HD two or three times more.

Fact 5: AD/HD is NOT UNKNOWN when it is untreated and undiagnosed …

• People have trouble succeeding in school and graduating.

• People have problems occur at work and lost productivity and less earning.

• Problems with relationships.

• More accidents and driving citations.

• Overeating and obesity is a problem.

• Problems with the law have been evident.

Concerning diagnosis, Dr. Joseph Biederman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, feels the quality of life is much better as well as saving society billions of dollars a year!

Fact 6: AD/HD is NOBODY’S FAULT.

AD/HD is NOT caused by poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers, and too much TV, too much sugar, or food allergies. AD/HD is genetic, related to specific areas of the brain.

The basic factors are: gender, family history, environmental toxins, parental risk and physical differences of the brain.

Fact 7: AD/HD treatment is highly multi-faceted.

Treatments include education, training, educational support, various types of psychotherapy and medicine.

Fact 8: Frequently, AD/HD impairments are not very noticeable until the teen-age years. When in middle school and high school, more demands are put on the executive functions of the youngster. The demands are more subtle, but disabling.

Fact 9: Medications increase the person’s alertness and improve communication of the cognitive management system.

Fact 10: Research indicates that a person with AD/HD manufactures norepinephrine and dopamine that not everyone else does.

If you think anyone in your family may have the syndrome, please contact Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), or the National Resource Center on AD/HD (NRC). You will be doing your friends, family and society a favor.

Ron Weckerly is a family man, retired teacher and nature lover who has lifelong experience with AD/HD. He is the author of Poems, Pathways and Peace: A Baby Boomer’s Journey with ADHD. His students nominated him six times to “Who’s Who Among American Teachers.”

From the Oct. 12-18, 2011, issue

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