Here are some very interesting basic ADHD facts that changed my perspective regarding children with ADHD/ADD. When dealing with ADHD or ADD, it seems like we look a the most common symptoms – lack of focus, hyperactivity, etc. There are so many other things under the ADHD/ADD umbrella that often get overlooked. This is why it is SO important to get all the facts. Parents and teachers need to fully understand the related conditions because they can be quite common and often go undiagnosed. Without identifying related conditions, the academic and behavioral needs of a child can be incomplete which can lead to lack of progress and continued problems.
EVALUATION & SCREENING RECOMMENDATIONS:
The CDC indicates that people with ADHD often have additional conditions including anxiety/depression, learning disorders, behavioral/conduct problems, peer difficulties and increased risk of injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children with ADHD be screened for other disorders and problems. What I find very interesting is that none of this was mentioned to me when my son was being evaluated. The outside evaluator said nothing. The school said nothing when they did their evaluations either. I kept feeling like something was missing based on my son’s behaviors so I started researching on my own. Then it started to make sense.
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?
There are very clear guidelines listed on the American Academy of Pediatrics website that recommend other related conditions be screened for (read here). The conditions are listed as:
- emotional or behavioral (eg, anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant, and conduct disorders)
- developmental (eg, learning and language disorders or other neurodevelopmental disorders)
- physical (eg, tics, sleep apnea) conditions
As parents we need to arm ourselves with information and push for things to happen. We need to ensure all disabilities, deficits and challenges are identified so a proper IEP or 504 can be developed and implemented. If we don’t do this, our child will suffer academically or in other ways.
A 2016 parent survey indicates that 6 out of 10 children with ADHD also have at least one other mental, emotional or behavioral disorder. This really surprised me. That is 60% of ADHD kids! The school and independent evaluators said nothing about this through the process. More information from the same survey shows that 5 out of 10 kids with ADHD also have a behavior or conduct disorder. This was eye opening to me since I was trying to understand the behavioral challenges my son had. Additionally the survey outlined that 3 out of 10 kids with ADHD also have anxiety. Depression and autism were other common conditions for ADHD children at 17% and 13% respectively.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TREATMENT:
The American Academy of Pediatrics indicates for children ages 4-18, parent training in behavior management is recommended in addition to behavioral classroom interventions. Medications can also be added in where appropriate. This means the school needs to be an active part of the treatment plan. If there is no support at school no one can expect behaviors to improve on their own.
When speaking of behavioral interventions, specifically a BIP (behavior intervention plan) should be developed and implemented by a team of qualified school professionals and the parents. Students on a 504, IEP or with no special educational services or modifications can still qualify for a BIP if behaviors impede their learning or the learning of others at school.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
As an advocate and a mother of a child with ADD, this information is very eye opening. The ADHD/ADD umbrella has many related conditions and behaviors that NEED to be considered. Not only should all children be screened or all of the related conditions, but their educational and behavioral plan at school should encompass any other related conditions they may have. That includes behavioral, social, emotional in addition to academic.
What I see is the parents and school often focuses on the most obvious issues and many other issues never get discussed or evaluated. It is imperative that the whole ADHD/ADD picture be included from beginning to end. Not all ADHD/ADD kids will have every symptom or the same deficits. Each child is completely unique. Knowing that, we need a thorough evaluation for each child to find the unique combination of behaviors and related disorders that may be present. This is the only way a very comprehensive effective IEP, 504 or BIP can be developed and implemented.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
Does ADHD Facts change your thoughts about your own child’s diagnosis or educational plan at school? Do you think there is another related condition present that has not been identified? Do you think your child’s current school plan is lacking in an area based on this information? Let me know!
Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts where I will dive deeper into common ADHD related conditions and disorders!