If your child has the symptoms of being very impulsive and hyperactive, or perhaps just very inattentive, they may have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). You’ll hear that we are just better at diagnosing this, or that this is a pharma driven diagnosis so they can sell more medications. While I think both of those factors are likely true, I can assure you as a pediatrician in the trenches for the past 30 years, that we most definitely are seeing more ADD and ADHD. Those kids who have this challenge are also more severe than their parents and the generation before.
The CDC presents the following statistics which fit with my experience:
- Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
- The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007, and to 11.0% in 2011.
- Rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of approximately 5% per year from 2003 to 2011.
- Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
These statistics can be found here…
I encourage parents who are dealing with children struggling in school, with focus, or attention issues, to get their child assessed. Once you discover your child has ADD or ADHD, what should you do? Many fear that stimulants will stunt their child’s growth. That has not been my experience. As long as your child gets enough to eat (the stimulants do suppress the appetite, so have a big breakfast with fat and protein and have a big dinner and bedtime meal) they will grow just fine. I encourage a lot of natural things as well to heal the brain including fish oil (1000-2000 mg daily), vitamin D (2000 to 5000 IU daily depending on your school aged child’s weight,) methyl B12, and methyl-folate to name a few. Some children focus better on a whole food – or “paleo” style diet, and getting rid of processed foods completely.
The recent study in Pediatrics, “ADHD, stimulant treatment, and growth: a longitudinal study,” showed there was no difference in adult height or significant changes in growth for those with ADHD on stimulant therapy. You can read more about this study here…
Other things that are very helpful are providing extra structure, organization, and homework help, and continue to uplift and be positive with your child. These kids feel that they are not smart when in fact most are very intelligent, they just under perform at school due to forgetting to turn in assignments, missing instructions, and doing poorly on timed tests. Most schools will allow accommodations, whether a 504 plan and an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan).