|Stephanie Burchell, PhD, LMFTA
Copyright ? 2007 Life Course Counseling, All Rights Reserved
Marriage Counseling Family Therapy Dallas, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill ?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactvity Disorder (ADD)
This article is written Sandra Volgy Everett, Ph.D., and Craig A. Everett, Ph.D. and provided by www.AAMFT.org
ADHD can occur in both genders as well as in all ethnic and racial populations. Although it is diagnosed as much as nine
times more often in males than in females, many researchers believe that it occurs equally in girls, but because females
display more inattentive symptoms and fewer behavioral symptoms, they may never be diagnosed or may be diagnosed
much later than males.
How do I know when to seek help?
There are two basic clusters of symptoms that characterize ADHD: cognitive symptoms are seen in inattention; behavioral
symptoms are seen in hyperactivity and impulsivity. If your child displays many of the symptoms below or if your child?s
teacher is concerned about similar patterns of behavior being present in the classroom, you should speak to a
professional and consider the possibility of having your child evaluated for ADHD.
Signs of inattention. Your child?
does not pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school work
is easily distracted from tasks or play
is often forgetful or does not appear to listen when spoken to
does not follow instructions, or fails to complete school work or chores
has trouble organizing tasks and personal belongings
avoids or dislikes activities requiring concentration, such as schoolwork
Signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Your child?
has difficulty sitting still, often fidgets and squirms
often talks out of turn or excessively in the classroom
displays high levels of energy and activity, often engaging in risky behaviors
interrupts frequently or intrudes into conversations or games
acts or speaks impulsively
displays immaturity in a variety of social situations
ADHD can affect families by straining sibling relationships; causing a child to underachieve in school, which may lead to
failure and truancy; diminishing parental bonding and family cohesiveness; and creating marital stress, tension, and
potential divorce. Since ADHD causes repercussions in so many aspects of a child?s life and affects the entire family,
several professionals may be involved in accurately assessing the disorder and developing an effective treatment plan. A
skilled family therapist may be the best professional to coordinate the overall plan and provide ongoing therapy to family
members. Additional professionals may include a special education person from the child?s school who would coordinate
the school?s accommodation plan for the student; a pediatric specialist or child psychiatrist who would assess the need for
medication; an educational specialist who would assist in providing academic and tutorial resources; and a psychometrist
who would provide psychoeducational testing to determine the severity of the symptoms and the level of cognitive
impairment (and who could also address the presence of learning disabilities, which are common among children with
How do I distinguish between normal and problem behaviors?
Reports in the media of greatly increased rates of diagnosis of ADHD and the frequent prescribing of stimulants for children
may lead parents to wonder if ADHD is being diagnosed properly. Are these diagnosed children simply exhibiting normal
childhood behaviors? Aren?t many children extremely active, impulsive, or inattentive?
Each child?s range of behaviors must be evaluated according to their age and developmental maturity. For example,
behaviors which may be normal in a 5-year-old might be viewed as problematic in a 10-year-old. The symptoms that
support a diagnosis of ADHD are usually present in early childhood, though the inattentive symptoms may not be
recognized until much later in a child?s life. Patterns of forgetfulness, disorganization, and overactive behaviors which would
determine a diagnosis of ADHD occur more frequently and persistently, and create more problems in a variety of settings
than behavior that is typical in a particular age group. Further information on exactly what ADHD is and how it differs from
typical childhood behavior can be found in the resources listed at the end of this flyer.
How do I know that the diagnosis of ADHD for my child is correct?
A diagnosis of ADHD requires several steps and may take two or three visits to a qualified health professional. Information
to support the diagnosis is collected from parents, teachers, health care professionals, and an interview with the child. The
clinician who is assessing your child will also consider other possible causes of problem behaviors. Select a professional
who specializes in working with ADHD and share your concerns. If you still question the diagnosis, get a second opinion
from another qualified professional.
Does my child have to be treated with medication?
In treating ADHD, medication may be used to reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity, and to improve a person?s ability to
concentrate and focus on activities and tasks. The effectiveness of the medication can help a child perform better in school,
as well as in family and social situations. The first-line medications prescribed are the stimulants, which include Ritalin,
Dexedrine, and Adderall. These have the most direct effect on moderating the ADHD symptoms and may be effective in up
to 75% of ADHD children and adolescents. If these medications cause unacceptable side effects or are found to be
ineffective, antidepressants may be prescribed, but often with somewhat less effectiveness. Improvement with the
medication may be dramatic. However, medication does not cure the disorder; it controls the symptoms temporarily.
Experts advise that medication is most effective when combined with therapy in order to improve self esteem, social skills,
family relations, and academic performance. The use of medication without supportive therapy is less effective.
Family therapists are well qualified to suggest the type of assessment and treatment which might be needed to help.
Children who are successfully treated for the disorder live happier, more secure lives, and are better able to succeed in
their educational and career goals. Adults who are successfully treated for the disorder are able to improve their marital
relationships, parenting skills, social interactions, and career direction and success.
Taking charge of ADHD. By Russell Barkley. NY: Guilford Press (1995).
The attention zone. By Michael Cohen. NY: Brunner/Mazel (1997).
Putting on the brakes. By Patricia Quinn and Judith Stern. NY: Magination Press (1992).
SHELLEY the hyperactive turtle. By Deborah Moss. Rockville, MD: Woodbine House (1989).
Learning to slow down and pay attention: A book for kids about ADD. By Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ellen Dixon. NY: Magination
I would if I could: A teenager?s guide to ADHD/hyperactivity. By T. Gordon. NY: GSI Publications (1992).
Adolescents and ADD: Gaining the advantage. By Patricia Quinn. NY: Brunner/Mazel (1995).
Driven to distraction. By E. Hallowell and John Ratey. NY: Pantheon (1994).
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD)
499 NW 70th Avenue, Suite 101
Plantation, Florida 33317
The text for this brochure was written by Sandra Volgy Everett, Ph.D., and Craig A. Everett, Ph.D.
Stephanie Burchell, PhD
3650 W Wheatland Rd
Dallas, TX ?75237
(214) 534 - 6177