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ADHD FAQ's

 

ADHD FAQs

 

1. What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

2. Is there a test I can take to tell if I have AD/HD?

3. I think I might have AD/HD. What do I do now?

4. How do I find a knowledgeable professional to diagnose and treat my AD/HD?

5. What does stimulant medication do?

6. I'm worried about side effects from taking medication for AD/HD. Can you give me any suggestions or advice?

7. I don't like the idea of taking prescribed medication. What other alternative treatments are there for AD/HD?

8. I'm a college student who isn't getting the help I need. How can I learn about my rights and find an advocate?

9. I need financial help to return to school. Are there scholarships available for people with AD/HD?

10. I am doing research on AD/HD. Where can I get statistics about AD/HD?

11. There are so many planners, calendars, and appointment books available on the market, however, the ones I have tried seem too complicated and time consuming for me to keep up with. Any suggestions?

12. I am interested in developing some new strategies to help with my AD/HD in the work place. Where can I find this kind of information?

13. I am having problems at work and believe I am being discriminated against. What can I do?

14. Can people with AD/HD get supplemental security income (SSI) assistance?

15. A friend of mine brought up the subject of AD/HD coaching. Where can I look for more information about it?

16. How can I find a coach in my area to help me with my AD/HD difficulties?

17. I'd like to become an AD/HD coach. Where can I find information on coach training options?

18. Where can I learn about how AD/HD affects relationships?

19. I understand that people with AD/HD may also have problems with addiction? Where can I get more information about this?

20. I am a woman with AD/HD. Where can I get information about how AD/HD affects women?

21.My child is not receiving the services or accommodations listed on his IEP. Where can I go for legal help?

22. My child attends a private school. Do they have to provide services to accommodate him?

23. I am looking for a school or camp for my AD/HD child. Where can I find one in my area?

1. What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a condition resulting in symptoms of inability to maintain attention, impulsive behaviors and/or motor restlessness. The prevalence of AD/HD in adults is thought to be around 4.4% (see Kessler, et al-Arch Gen Psychiatry 2005; 62:593-602)

AD/HD is a neurobiological disorder resulting from problems in the dopamine neurotransmitter systems in the brain. Most cases are genetically inherited. If a parent or close relative has AD/HD there is a 30% chance that a child will have AD/HD. Twin studies show that if an identical twin has AD/HD, there is a 50% chance the other twin will have it also. AD/HD is not caused by poor nutrition, ineffective parenting, drugs, or allergies. Other medical conditions may cause AD/HD-like symptoms (such as severe head trauma, thyroid problems, fetal alcohol syndrome and lead intoxication), however, and for this reason a professional evaluation should be obtained to rule out other medical conditions.

People who can focus only on things that interest them, and disregard less interesting things, are often faced with additional problems such as an academic underachievement, lack of social skills, disorganization, or difficulty completing important tasks. These often result in difficulty with personal relationships, staying employed, or completing an education. People may also stimulate themselves by doing reckless or dangerous activities and thus complicate their lives with physical and legal problems. top of page 

2. Is there a test I can take to tell if I have AD/HD?

Many books about AD/HD will have a list of criteria to help in determining whether or not you have AD/HD symptoms. Keep in mind that these checklists determine only if you have the symptoms, and do not determine what the cause of these symptoms is. Symptom checklists are like a thermometer: They tell a person that she has a fever, but do not tell her what is causing it. To find out if you have AD/HD, you will need a diagnosis from a knowledgeable professional who is trained in differentiating between the causes of the AD/HD symptoms. top of page 

3. I think I might have AD/HD. What do I do now?

The first step is for you to find out if you do indeed have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A good place to start is with your physician. Have a physical to eliminate other possible causes for your difficulties. Request a referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other knowledgeable professional who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of AD/HD.

If you do have AD/HD, your second step is to get all the information you can about the disorder. Start with our website. Read the articles, order and read the books, listen to the recordings, and follow the links to the other sites associated with ours. Attend conferences and seminars in your area to learn more. Educate yourself and those around you about AD/HD and how it can be affecting your life.

The next step is support. Support groups, therapy groups, and individual therapy are all helpful in sorting out the effects AD/HD has had on your life. Support such as this can help you develop new and better coping strategies for more success. Surround yourself with supportive people who understand the difficulties you may be experiencing. Getting support for yourself and your family may be the most important step you take in understanding and learning to live with AD/HD.

Your fourth step is medication. If you and your doctor feel that you would benefit from stimulant medication, give it a try. If you do indeed have AD/HD, it will help your brain function as other non-AD/HD people's brains do. This does not mean that you will magically be cured. There is no cure, but medication will allow your brain to work normally while the medication is working. Remember, "the pill does not replace the skill or the will." Medication is simply a good tool to help you stay focused and on task. In addition, you need to learn skills that help you compensate for impairments caused by your AD/HD to improve performance and success.

The final step is coaching. Coaching provides the structure that many of us need to set and achieve realistic goals for ourselves. Learn more about coaching here on our website. top of page 

4. How do I find a knowledgeable professional to diagnose and treat my AD/HD?

One of the best ways to find an AD/HD specialist in your area is to ask people who know about AD/HD. You can find them at support groups for AD/HD adults. We have a listing of groups across the country on our website. Attend a meeting and ask for a referral. Another good way to find knowledgeable professionals is to go to your local community college and talk to their special services department. Although not all medical doctors are up-to-date on AD/HD and its treatment, often child psychiatrists and pediatricians know of professionals who specialize in treating AD/HD in adults. top of page 

5. What does stimulant medication do?

These medications stimulate the brain to release a greater amount of some of the neurochemicals needed for smooth transmission of messages through the brain. The most common stimulants prescribed are methylphenidate (Concerta, Focalin XR, and Ritalin) and the amphetamines (Adderall XR and Vyvanse). These medications have been used for over fifty years to treat AD/HD symptoms and are considered very safe and effective when prescribed correctly and used as prescribed. top of page

6. I'm worried about side effects from taking medication for AD/HD. Can you give me any suggestions or advice?

If you are having side effects from taking medication, talk to your doctor about them. Your physician may be able to help you adjust the timing or dosage of your medication so that the side effects will not be as problematic. If you are still having too many side effects, your physician may switch you to a different medication that may work better for you.top of page

7. I don't like the idea of taking prescribed medication. What other alternative treatments are there for AD/HD?

There are many things you can do to reduce the effect that AD/HD has on your ability to function or perform as you would like. Simplifying your life and reducing stressors are two of the most helpful. Improving your nutrition, getting plenty of sleep and daily exercise will also be beneficial. Having regular medical check-ups to make sure your body is otherwise healthy will assure that your body is not being stressed by other physical ailments. Dealing with psychological or emotional problems which may be causing difficulties will help relieve additional stress.

There is no research proving that other treatments, such as neurobiofeedback, nutritional supplements, hypnosis, visual therapy, or changes in the diet are effective in relieving AD/HD symptoms. However, if they do help with other difficulties you may be having, your AD/HD symptoms may not be as troublesome for you.

Learn as much as you can about AD/HD. Get a good diagnosis from a knowledgeable professional who will rule out other possible causes for the symptoms. Make changes in your lifestyle so that you can experience success and feel good about yourself.top of page

8. I'm a college student who isn't getting the help I need. How can I learn about my rights and find an advocate?

Go to the Special Ed Advocate (http://www.wrightslaw.com) through which you can contact Peter Wright, who is an attorney who specializes in special education law. If he can't help you himself, he may well be able to recommend someone who can. top of page

9. I need financial help to return to school. Are there scholarships available for people with AD/HD?

At this time we are not aware of any scholarships particularly for people with AD/HD, however, you may want to check out the following ideas:

  • Go to the Financial Aid office of the school you attend or wish to and speak with them. They usually have a complete computer program that allows one to put in certain specifics and AD/HD might be one of them. A good Financial Aid counselor should be able to help. Some of that information is available on the web, but the cross-referencing can be done best by the program that the schools have.
  • Look for other ways to qualify for assistance. The Special Needs Department of the school you are attending or wish to attend will have access to the specific information should it exist.

ADDA has a new fund, the Michele Novotni College Scholarship Fund, that is currently under development. Information on this fund (and other ADDA scholarship funds) will be available on the website as it becomes available. top of page

10. I am doing research on AD/HD. Where can I get statistics about AD/HD? Go to a graduate school or medical library and start a journal search.
Or, try visiting the following websites:

A good thing to do when doing research from these references is to check out their footnotes and research citations to find further sources of information for your own research. top of page

11. There are so many planners, calendars, and appointment books available on the market, however, the ones I have tried seem too complicated and time consuming for me to keep up with. Any suggestions?

There is a simplified version of the "to do list" explained in the article The Plain and Simple To-Do List by Mary Jane Johnson, PCC, ACT. Also check out the illustrated version under the heading of Organization and Time Management in our article section. top of page

12. I am interested in developing some new strategies to help with my AD/HD in the workplace. Where can I find this kind of information?

We have several good "workplace" articles here on our site: Making ADD-Friendly Career Choices by Wilma R. Fellman, M.Ed., LPC; Top Ten ADD Traps in the Workplace, and how to avoid getting caught by them! by Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph.D. Other workplace articles can be found under the heading of Career and Workplace in our article section. Two good books on workplace issues are Finding a Career That Works for You: A Step-by-step Guide to Choosing a Career and Finding a Job, by Wilma Fellman, M.Ed, and ADD in the Workplace: Choices, Changes, and Challenges, by Kathleen Nadeau, PhD. You can find both of these books in the ADDA Store. top of page

13. I am having problems at work and believe I am being discriminated against. What can I do?

Start by learning all you can about your rights. There is a wonderful book edited by Peter Latham, JD and Patricia Latham, JD, called Succeeding in the Workplace which has good legal information in it. Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D's book, ADD in the Workplace also has a great section on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues in the workplace.

Also, there is a toll free number to call for questions about reasonable job accommodations: Job Accommodation Network at 1-800-526-7234, or check out the complete Job Accommodation Network Website at http://www.jan.wvu.edu/. If you need legal assistance that is knowledgeable about AD/HD issues in your area go to this website: http://www.wrightslaw.com [SEE COMMENT ABOVE] or contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office at http://www.eeoc.gov. top of page

14. Can people with AD/HD get supplemental security income (SSI) assistance?

Some people with AD/HD are able to receive money through Social Security. Contact your local Social Security Disability office. They will evaluate your situation and determine whether or not you are eligible. top of page

15. A friend of mine brought up the subject of AD/HD coaching. Where can I get more information about it?

These two articles will give you a good start: Introduction To AD/HD Coaching by Andrea Little and Just What is Coaching by Joel L. Young, MD and David Giwerc, MCC. Other articles on AD/HD coaching can be found under the heading of AD/HD Coaching in our article section. top of page

16. How can I find a coach in my area to help me with my AD/HD difficulties?

Referrals for AD/HD coaches can be found through the American Coaches Association www.americoach.org. This organization specializes in referrals to coaches who work exclusively with persons with AD/HD. You may also want to check out ADDA’s Professional Directory (link to this). Another place to find coaches for AD/HD is at ADDitude magazine: www.additudemag.com. You can also find referrals at the websites of the schools listed below.

Please keep in mind that coaching does not have to be done in person, and that most coaching is done over the phone. Because of this fact, coaches are able to be helpful and available to you on a regular basis regardless of where you are. top of page

17. I'd like to become an AD/HD coach. Where can I find information on coach training options?

Information about AD/HD coach training can be found at the following places:

top of page

18. Where can I learn about how AD/HD affects relationships?

A good place to start would be in our article section under the heading of Relationship Issues. There is also a book by Jonathan Halverstadt, ADD and Romance where you can learn about how AD/HD has affected your romantic relationships and what you can do to improve them. You can purchase this and other books at the ADDA Store at Adda Store - Audio & Video. top of page

19. I understand that people with AD/HD may also have problems with addiction. Where can I get more information about this?

Look for the following books on the subject: The Link Between AD/HD and Addictionand When Too Much Isn't Enough: Ending the Destructive Cycle of ADHD and Addictive Behavior by Wendy Richardson, MA, MFT; Overload: Attention Deficit Disorder and the Addictive Brain by David Miller and Kenneth Blum. You can purchase these and other books at the ADDA Storetop of page

20. I am a woman with AD/HD. Where can I get information about how AD/HD affects women?

Our website is a great place to start! Check out the following articles The Latest in the Treatment of Women with AD/HD by Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW; Women and AD/HD: How does Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affect your life? by Carol Watkins, MD. Other terrific sites devoted to women with AD/HD are www.sarisolden.com, www.addvance.com and www.ncgiadd.org.
Be sure to read Women With Attention Deficit Disorder, by Sari Solden; Patricia Quinn, Kathleen Nadeau and Ellen Littman's book, Understanding Girls with AD/HD; Understanding Women with AD/HD, edited by Patricia Quinn and Kathleen Nadeau; Moms with ADD, by Christine Adamec; and Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD, by Terry Matlen. They will give you insight which will be helpful in understanding the effects of AD/HD. These books can be ordered at the ADDA website. top of page

21. My child is not receiving the services or accommodations listed on his IEP. Where can I go for legal help?

Throughout all of your dealings with school district personnel, it is always best to attempt to establish a relationship of cooperation and mutual respect. The first step would be to try to resolve the matter, amicably, with the person(s) directly responsible for failing to follow the IEP. Most often, this is a teacher who doesn't understand AD/HD and the impact it has on our students. Request a meeting or telephone conference with the teacher(s) or school personnel in an effort to help them to better understand your concerns. Many professionals within the school system have had no real training concerning the needs of students with AD/HD. Parents and students oftentimes need to educate them.

Your opinion alone, however valid, may not be sufficient to convince them. Ask your child's psychologist or educational consultant to accompany you to the meeting. Or, alternatively, bring written materials with you to the meeting, such as copies of articles, excerpts from books, or expert opinions that support your requests for services. An excellent resource for these purposes is Chris Zeigler Dendy's book, Teaching Teens with ADD and ADHD.

If a teacher is still uncooperative, contact your Case Manager from the Department of Special Services and elicit his or her help. In some instances, it may be necessary for you to request that the student be removed from that class and placed with a teacher who is better able to understand and meet the student's unique needs. In extreme instances, when all else fails, contact an attorney or advocate in your area specializing in special education law. For a listing of attorneys or advocates in your area, contact the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) at www.copaa.orgtop of page

22. My child attends a private school. Do they have to provide services to accommodate him?

Schools that accept public funds must follow Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a broad civil rights anti-discrimination disability law. To avoid discrimination, schools that use public money must provide needed accommodations to a student with disabilities.

Some private religious schools accept public money, often to buy textbooks or for transportation, for lunches or nutrition programs. Only if the private school accepts public money will they be obligated to provide accommodations. top of page

23. I am looking for a school or camp for my AD/HD child. Where can I find one in my area?

One of the best places to find information about schools for AD/HD children is through CH.A.D.D. (Children with Attention Deficit Disorder - www.chadd.org). Their magazine, ATTENTION, has many advertisements for schools and camps specializing in working with AD/HD children. The specialist who diagnosed and treats your child will probably have some good recommendations for appropriate programs and networking with an AD/HD support group in your area will help you find a good school near you. top of page

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