Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

Printer Friendly Version

Title: Thoughts on ADD


With all the change in information and research coming out on attention deficit disorder, I thought it might be time to share a few of my own personal thoughts. ADD or ADHD is certainly with us in a big way. Why we see so many kids in our classrooms with this condition is a puzzle to me but they are definitely there and we
must help them to reach their potential the best we can. Was this amount of ADD always there in the past or has the rate actually increased in the most recent generation? I think from talking to older school teachers and older pediatricians that the rate is actually increased. God only knows why. There are many theories and the one I accept as the most likely cause is the way we raising kids today. Kids unfortunately are not disciplined and taught limits on a regular basis as they were in previous generations. 

Kids are also growing up in very noisy, fast paced homes, frequently with the TV on constantly. There are also many other distractions of their attention such as video games, loud music and other influences which are different from previous generations.  

Are there other causes for the increasing amount of attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity that we see in our society and throughout the world? There probably are and I hope that someone can pinpoint the cause so that if possible it can be
influenced in a positive way. 

Once we face the fact that attention deficit disorder is here and that children who have it are definitely handicapped in a typical classroom setting with 20 to 30 plus students we must try to help these children. What works? Well we know from 60 years of experience and particularly in the past 13 years that Ritalin and other psychostimulant medicines work for these children. We don't know exactly how it works. It may have something to do with glucose uptake in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part of the brain that helps us to focus our attention. It may have some other biochemical function. Nevertheless there is no doubt in any scientist's mind who treats this condition that Ritalin and other medicines do work and that the majority of children who take therapeutic doses are helped. How are they helped? Primarily, they are better able to focus and not be so easily distracted. For the hyperactive kids they are usually less fidgety and impulsive. They tend to have less negative reprimands throughout their school day. Overall, they tend to do better in a classroom setting and feel better about themselves because of more success in school and less failing both academically and socially. 

Are there other treatments available to patients with attention deficit disorder besides Ritalin and other psychostimulant medicines? Yes, there are numerous things that any parent and teacher can do to help these children. First try working closer with the child to keep their attention. Practice strict, firm, appropriate, and decisive discipline methods so that the child learns limits. Be persistent and enforce what you say even if it
means one hundred time outs or loss of a privilege. Work with your child's unique learning style whatever that may be to help them maximize their learning. There are numerous other specific techniques which are available in handouts and books in the library
and bookstores on helping these children. I would add that simply loving the child and accepting them the way they are, the way God made them, is critical and vital to their healthy self-esteem. 

Are learning disabilities associated with attention deficit
disorder? Yes, learning disabilities are frequently if not almost always associated with true attention deficit disorder and should be uncovered if at all possible through a learning disability evaluation. This can be done by a learning specialist through the school board system or by several private agencies that specialize
in this. Is it important for a child with attention deficit
disorder to uncover their possible learning disability? It is very important because the better you understand and define a specific learning disability, the better you can work with it. You might provide tutoring in that weak area. Does tutoring help these children? Yes, any type of tutoring or extra attention, structure and reinforcement at home will definitely help. 

What is the future for ADD diagnosis and treatment. I think in the future we will know a lot more about the specific learning disabilities that are associated with attention deficit. We will know a lot more about exactly what attention deficit disorder is on a biochemical, physiological level in the brain. We will know exactly how the medicines that we use to treat it work and we will know more about their long term effects. At the present time I would encourage anyone who's child has properly diagnosed attention deficit disorder to learn as much as they can about it through books and discussion with their physician. Join CHADD which is a
national parent support organization for parents of ADD children.

Seek the advice of physicians, educators and any other
caregivers interested in the condition and are willing to
work with you to help your child. 

P. O. Box 3153
Lafayette LA 70502