Katherine Ellison, Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist, author, wife and mother, spoke at a workshop I attended recently. ¬†She shared her experience raising her ADHD son (now in high school). ¬†Buzz, ¬†A Year of Paying Attention (Hyperion Books, 2010) chronicles her year of investigating Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). ¬†According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genes play a large role. Like many other illnesses, ADHD probably results from a combination of factors. In addition to genetics, researchers are looking at possible environmental factors, and are studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and the social environment might contribute to ADHD.
Ellison describes ADHD as “interest deficit” or behavior that is attempting to wake up the brain. ¬†She said that 5.4 million US kids are diagnosed with ADHD.¬†According to the National Institutes of Health, 3 to 5 % of the US population has ADHD, yet more than half those surveyed in the Roper Poll (October 2010) mistakenly think that learning¬†disabilities (including ADHD) are a product of laziness. ¬†More than two-thirds of parents think specific signs of learning disabilities are something a 2-4 year old will grow out of (also not true) and are therefore are more likely to delay seeking professional help. ¬†And,¬†while 31% of parents say they would turn to teachers for information about learning disabilities, 43% of teachers think the home environment is at least partially to blame for children‚Äôs learning disabilities. Delayed diagnoses of ¬†LDs and ADHD results in time lost where interventions could have been established, ¬†time, research shows, that cannot be made up. ¬†ADHD is treatable, but there is no cure.
So, where to go for help? ¬†You can start with your pediatrician, asking for a psychiatric referral to get an ADHD diagnosis. ¬†You can read, talk to parents/guardians of children with ADHD and get connected to folks with similar challenges. ¬†Parents Education Network (PEN) is a good place to network. They also sponsor workshops and EdRev in the spring in San Francisco. Books to read include Ellison’s and Dr. Ned Hallowell‘s Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction. ¬†An online magazine I recently came across is ADDitude, containing lots of helpful information.
Graphic Creative Commons License Marla Cummins.
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