ADD is a term frequently used to describe the academic and behavior problems of children/adolescents who have difficulty focusing and maintaining attention. Children/Adolescents who, in addition, have difficulty with control of motor activity are referred to as ADHD.

Often the lively, energetic, young boy is labeled ADHD by the teacher or school.  What these educational experts can forget is that young children (more frequently boys) are introduced to the structure and demands of the classroom situation well before their minds or bodies may be ready. A consultation with a Psychologist (which may or may not include psychological testing) who is trained to recognize the symptoms of AD/ADHD is a good idea before deciding on medication, especially at an early age.

            Then there is the young or older girl (although it could also be a boy) who sits quietly at her desk, staring out the window or doodling, as the teacher speaks.   She may have difficulty persisting at tasks that require a lot of effort.  She is probably chronically disorganized, constantly loses things and waits until the last minute to complete homework or projects.  She has trouble remembering things and is sometimes called “spacey”.   This child may also suffer from ADD, predominantly inattentive type, now recognized as a significant problem, and one that persists into adulthood.   This child also requires a consultation (and more frequently, an evaluation that not only diagnosis ADD, but rules out other types of problems that might be causing these behaviors). 

            With specific and definitive knowledge of the causes of an individual child’s behavior, the appropriate type of treatment, tailored to the child’s/adolescent’s particular needs, will be developed.

The Whole Child/Adolescent philosophy regarding ADD/ADHD

There are many books and websites now available that will give you a wealth of useful information explaining the disorders in detail, methods of diagnosis and treatment options available to you. Whatever the currently popular or scientifically stated causes of ADD and ADHD, we believe that there is an important concept for the parent to keep in mind when planning and advocating for, and interacting with, their child.

ADD and ADHD are believed to be chronic disorders of childhood of extremely early origin (although usually not discernible until a later time) and probably include neurological and/or other physiological brain differences from the non-ADD child. However, as experts in the field of infant and early childhood development are aware, as with any disorder, deficit or difference from the norm that occurs at a very early age, there is, at present, an inability to sort out and isolate the physiological (i.e. neurological/biochemical), emotional, social and behavioral components of that disorder.

Simply put: Even though ADD/ADHD may be caused by a genetic miswiring   (or different wiring) of the brain, it will, at the same time, cause the child to feel differently, think differently, behave differently and interact differently - all based on how they perceive the external world of people (parents, teachers, siblings, friends) and events, and how they make sense of what they perceive.

That world of people needs to learn how to help this child, who perceives differently, feel safe and confident in a confusing world. The lack of concentration and the hyperactive behavior is often an expression of the child's anxiety, confusion and unhappiness about misunderstanding and being misunderstood. Medication that temporarily effects the brain may change these neurological (and behavioral) patterns temporarily, but it doesn't affect the child's sense of differentness and alienation. That's the task of the world of people around him.

Learning to understand and respond positively to your whole child/adolescent is not difficult if you get the right guidance. We at the Whole Child/Adolescent Center can help you with this.

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          Dr. Bohensky: