Is Attention Deficit Disorder Affecting Your Child?

Is Attention Deficit Disorder Affecting Your Child?

Have you noticed that your child has trouble staying focused on a specific task at hand? Whether he’s working on homework or playing catch, he just doesn’t seem to be able to concentrate on anything for a period of time. If this has this been happening over the course of at least six months, he could have attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Once referred to as hyperkinesis or minimal brain dysfunction, ADD has become one of the most common mental disorders among children, affecting approximately 2 million of them. In order to be diagnosed with ADD, the behaviors must appear before the age of 7 and continue for at least six months. In addition, the behaviors must be more frequent and severe than other children of the same age. They must also affect at least two areas in the child’s life, such as family, school or social life.

Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) believe ADD is a diagnosis applied to children who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time.

When this disorder is diagnosed by a health professional, it is only natural for parents to ask themselves how this happened. Physicians still don’t know what causes ADD, and there are too many possibilities to pinpoint a cause with precision. D.O.s believe the most important thing to focus on is how can help the child deal with the disorder.

If parents suspect their child may have ADD, there are several professionals to turn to for diagnosis – pediatricians, family physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists or neurologists. While they may all diagnose the disorder, some of them can prescribe medications for ADD while others can provide counseling as well.

Medications have been used for years to help treat ADD. Ritalin, Dexedrine/Dextrostat and Cylert seem to work most effectively in children.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the behavior improves for nine out of 10 children when using one of these three stimulants. D.O.s say if the prescribed medication isn’t working for your child, ask your physician to adjust the dosage. Your physician can prescribe one of the two other medications if the initial treatment doesn’t work.

When placing children on any medications, there is always concern. However, weighing the potential side effects against the benefits can help families decide whether or not to choose stimulants as a method for treating ADD. Some side effects while on these drugs include loss in appetite, a slower growth rate and weight loss.

While medication can do a good job of controlling symptoms, many professionals believe that medication and therapy are the best combination for treating ADD. Other therapies include psychotherapy, support groups, cognitive-behavioral therapy and social skills training which can help people with ADD learn new behaviors or accept themselves despite the disorder.

No matter which treatment your physician orders, your child can still learn to adapt to ADD and live a normal life.

Behavior patterns to look for

Because ADD does not have distinct physical symptoms, it is necessary to recognize specific behavior patterns. These patterns include:

What can D.O.s do differently?

Rather than just prescribing drugs, the more osteopathic approach looks for the underlying causes of the symptoms of ADD.

For instance, a common cause of behavioral problems is hypoglycemia which is easily treatable with diet changes. Food and inhalant allergies can also be common culprits that aren’t difficult to treat either.

Another treatment modality that some osteopathic physicians use is osteopathic manipulation which can affect the nervous system of a child with ADD.

Because so many children with these symptoms have allergies, they often have congestion that affects how they think, feel and act. One of these treatment techniques, designed to drain fluid from the head, can leave the child with the ability to think more clearly.

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