Matters on My Mind: October is ADD/ADHD Awareness Month

Since October is designated ADD/ADHD Awareness Month, I thought I would write a bit about these disorders. ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are both prevalent. In our tri-county area of Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Amador there are over 2,500 incidences. This indicates 11% diagnosed, a 33% increase in the last 12 years. Here at Mind Matters 43% of our clients are being treated for ADD/ADHD.

What are some signs of ADD/ADHD?

  • Inattention: difficulty with focus & attention, trouble getting organized, being easily distracted, and/or finding it difficult to perform sequential or sustained activities.
  • Impulsivity: doing or saying things without considering the consequences, interrupting and blurting out, tendency to have more accidents & risky behaviors, and/or having trouble controlling emotional responses.
  • Hyperactivity: constantly moving, squirming, or fidgeting, talking excessively, humming or making inappropriate noises, and/or playing too rough.

What causes ADD/ADHD?

  • Genetics: ADD/ADHD is often inherited. A sibling will also have ADD/ADHD 32% of the time, while a parent will also be affected 50% of the time. There is not just one gene, but, rather multiple genes that have been identified as contributing to the conditions.
  • Environment: Possible exposures(directly or through food) include pesticides, lead, food dyes, prenatal tobacco & alcohol exposure, and/or air pollution. 
  • Medical Risks: low birth weight/prematurity, head injuries, thyroid disease, iron deficiency, repeated ear infections, and some medications.

Treatment Strategies

  • Create a Strategy: This complex disorder requires a comprehensive and well thought out plan. Create a team with the individual, family, educators, therapists/clinicians, and doctors. Keeping everyone in the loop greatly reduces stress and any possible negative responses the person may face on a day to day basis.
  • Family and Individual Therapy: Get "everyone on the same page" so that strategies will be successful. The diagnosis itself often creates conflict within the family; some are apt to believe and embrace the diagnosis,while others are resistant or resentful of being "labeled" with a disorder. Individual counseling to improve organizational skills and other "executive functions" are useful. Parent counseling can offer new approaches and help create consistency and harmony between parents.
  • Educational Team: Often ADD/ADHD in children is first seen when they enter the school environment; their struggles are different and more profound than their peers. Working closely with the teacher(s) in a collaborative way can be vital. The process of creating a plan for school based assistance can be initiated by either the parents or an educator. Potential options include: Student/Child Study Team (SST/CST), further educational & behavioral testing, informal or formal 504 accommodations, and/or an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Nutrition and Lifestyle: Effective diet modifications include: high protein breakfasts, avoiding artificial food colorings, food allergy elimination diets, reducing processed foods, and eating organic foods. Typical supplements include: omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil), magnesium, zinc, pycnogenol, pyridoxal 5 phosphate (P5P50), and melatonin. Lifestyle changes include: reducing screen time in front of television, computer gaming & smart phone use while also increasing any form of exercise and unstructured outdoor activities.
  • Medications: Medications can be a useful part of a treatment strategy. There are a variety of medications which act differently in the brain and require someone familiar with the "art" of using them to tailor them to the needs of the the individuals. Medications include stimulants, non-stimulants, and anti-depressants. All have risks of side effects which need to be clearly explained.
  • Other Treatment Options: A variety of other treatments available include: Cogmed, EEG Biofeedback, and Interactive Metronome Training.

Finding Help

Mind Matters is a Comprehensive Treatment Center serving individuals and families affected by ADD/ADHD and more. Check out our website for more information or to make a donation www.mindmattersclinic.org or call our office at 209-728-2184. Get Answers   Get Help   Get Moving

Thank you to Dr. Ryan Thompson, Medical Director and MD at Mind Matters Clinic for providing the information for this blog.