AD/HD is real. It is a disorder of the frontal lobe of the brain. It is confusing to folks because there are several disorders that can cause the same symptoms and there are other environmental issues that can cause similar symptoms. For example, if a child is unable to pay attention in class, he or she could have an undiagnosed vision impairment which prevents him or her from seeing what the teacher is talking about or a communication learning disorder that interferes with his or her ability to process auditory information as the teacher speaks. Similarly, he or she could be tired because of a sleep disturbance, or overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts of something troubling that is happening at home.
The primary symptoms of AD/HD are impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. In kids, impulsivity can take the form of not being able to wait their turn, interrupting, talking back, and being dishonest. Inattention can cause the child to be forgetful, make careless mistakes, and be easily distracted. Hyperactivity is evidenced by kids fidgeting, not sitting still, running when they are supposed to walk, and talking excessively, even when asked to stop.
There are many, many other behaviors linked to AD/HD including sleeping/waking problems, memory and recall problems, difficulty with the concept of time, not learning from punishment and rewards, being easily frustrated, and difficulty putting their thoughts into words just to name a few. The majority of those diagnosed with AD/HD also have another mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, tics or stuttering.
Therapy can be very helpful for families who have a child or children with AD/HD. Therapists can provide information about the disorder – new information becomes available weekly and it can be overwhelming to keep up with it and effectively manage a family. They can assist families in developing routines and schedules that are helpful to the child. Therapists can help with issues of behavior management in school and at home. It is even possible for the therapist to work as an advocate for the family with the schools. Additionally, therapists can offer support for the non-AD/HD family members who can become frustrated, angry, stressed, or even hopeless.