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Working with ADHD

ADHD is a pretty hot topic with parents, teachers, schools, and the mental health field. Like many popularized conditions, ADHD is both underdiagnosed and overdiagnosed. Like many mental “disorders,” ADHD can be tricky to fully diagnose. The criteria are listed under the previous post.

If you suspect your child may have a form of ADHD (forms of ADHD), it is important to have someone well-versed in ADHD see them. There are numerous testing methods, and even more ideas about treatment. Treatment options may include medication, therapy, and psychoeducation.


Medication for ADHD is still debated, but is generally effective. The most well-known are Ritalin, Adderall, and Strattera.  These are not all of the options available, but are some of the most popular. They are stimulants that in someone with ADHD basically slow the brain down, reduces energy.  Someone without ADHD would probably find these medicines “hype them up.” You will need a doctor (physician or psychiatrist) to prescribe these medications.


In addition to or instead of medications, some people find various forms of therapy helpful. The purpose of this therapy would be to a) add an extra level of monitoring to any medication regimen, as a therapist could take note of and record behavior patterns and changes and b) probably the most important, teach techniques for coping with ADHD. ADHD does NOT  make a person less capable or less intelligent, but sometimes people who have ADHD may need other ways to help them focus or accomplish tasks. Techniques may include writing down all tasks, establishing a highly consistent routine, setting aside time to use excess energy, pacing to think, and other exercises.  These techniques can be combined with medication or used instead of medication, depending on the needs of the individual.


Psychoeducation simply means learning about the condition. This I highly recommend. You can get information for your doctor, therapist, and the great amount of literature on this condition. The more information you have, the better you can make your treatment decisions. A word of caution, however: the information available about ADHD is vast and conflicting. Some information may be inaccurate or unhelpful. Look at all information with a discerning eye. And remember- just because one person had a particular experience doesn’t mean you necessarily will. Everyone is an individual case. As with any concern, consult a licensed professional.

That probably covers ADHD for today. Have a good weekend.



Diagnostic Checklist for ADHD

From Brains That Work a Little Bit Differently by Allen D. Bragdon & David Gamon, PhD.

Diagnostic Checklist for ADHD

ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity for the age and developmental level. Standard diagnosis specifies that by the time a child reaches seven years, at least six of the features listed below under “inattention” plus a combined total of at least six of those items under “hyperactivity” and “impulsivity” must all be present.

1. Inattention

  • Won’t pay attention to details, makes many careless mistakes in school work or other chores;
  • Can’t sustain attention in tasks or games;
  • Seems not to listen properly when spoken to;
  • Doesn’t follow instruction well, and often fails to complete tasks;
  • Has a hard time organizing tasks;
  • Has a hard time with activities or tasks that require sustained mental effort;
  • Frequently loses things needed for tasks or activities, such as pencils, books, toys;
  • Is easily distracted;
  • Is often forgetful in routine activities;

2. Hyperactivity

  • Fidgets or squirms excessively;
  • Leaves seat when sitting in required;
  • Runs around or climbs on things excessively;
  • Has a hard time with quiet activities;
  • Seems in constant motion;
  • Talks excessively.

3. Impulsiveness

  • Blurts out answers before the question has even been finished;
  • Has a hard time waiting to take turn;
  • Interrupts or butts in on others.

Dr. W.M. Hawkins, Ph.D, NCC