KID TREE-editAttention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADD, ADHD) is a developmental and behavioral disorder that affects up to nine percent of all school-age children. Although the condition usually manifests in childhood, it can persist into adulthood, causing difficulties at home, at school, in relationships and at work if not recognized and treated. ADHD affects 30 to 70 percent of adults who had ADHD in childhood.
The symptoms of ADHD include inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity that are inappropriate for a person’s age level. Children who have ADHD often:

  • Are easily distracted by sights and sounds in their environment
  • Are unable to concentrate for long periods of time
  • Are restless and impulsive
  • Have a tendency to daydream
  • Are slow to complete tasks
  • Have difficulty with social skills

There are three types of ADHD. Some children with ADHD show symptoms of inattention and are not hyperactive or impulsive. Others only show symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity. Most, however, show symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

  • Predominantly inattentive type
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
  • Combined type

While the term ADHD is the technically correct term for either of the three types indicated above, in the past the term attention deficit disorder (ADD) was used, and still is by many. For the past ten years ADD and ADHD have been used synonymously in publications and in public policy.
The exact cause of ADHD isn’t known. Experts do know that there are changes in the neurology and brains of people with the condition. Some evidence suggests that drug or alcohol use and other conditions during pregnancy can increase the chances of ADD, but in most cases this is not easy to correlate. ADD is not caused by home or school situations or by poor parenting, though the behavioral difficulties can be worsened by lack of understanding and mismanagement by family members.
Holtz Psychological Services provides several reliable assessments to detect the nature and severity of childhood and adult ADD. It is usually only diagnosed after a child has shown some or all symptoms of ADD on a regular basis for more than six months.
The diagnosis of ADHD usually involves the gathering of information from several sources, including school, caregivers and parents. Psychologists can consider how a child’s behavior compares with that of other children the same age.
ADULT ADD
LONG PATH-editFive to Twelve percent of adults in the United States have ADD, also known as ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. As you’ve probably discovered by now, ADD affects every aspect of your life: work, home, and even your social life. Adult Symptoms can include:

  • Having mood swings
  • Abusing substances
  • Putting too many activities on your schedule
  • Making a lot of to-do lists and never using them
  • Getting lots of speeding tickets
  • Having feelings of not living up to your potential
  • Chronically procrastinating
  • Impulsively taking risks
  • Having difficulties finishing projects
  • Frequently losing items
  • Having a quick temper
  • Having problems with organization
  • Having a series of marriages
  • Impulsively quitting jobs
  • Changing jobs frequently
  • Lacking friends
  • Having difficulties managing money
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Being underemployed (working below your ability)
  • Disliking traffic so much that you will drive of your way to avoid it
  • Interrupting people
  • Frustration and self-blame for weaknesses

It might surprise you to learn that ADD is not all negative. There are also positive aspects to having ADD, and it is likely that you have these traits as well. People with ADD can have:

  • An ability to multitask effectively
  • Excellent skills in crisis situations
  • A good sense of humor
  • Versatility
  • Creativity
  • The ability to let go of grudges
  • A talent for thinking “outside the box”
  • The drive to focus on something they are interested in

SPHERES-editINSTRUCTIONS: Check the box next to any of the statements that you AGREE with.

I have a lot of difficulty getting things started, such as homework, projects, chores and assignments.

While reading, I often lose track of what I have just read and need to re-read paragraphs. I understand the words, but they don't seem to "stick" in my memory.

I become easily frustrated and I am often impatient when waiting for things to happen.

I often procrastinate and put things off until later. (and/or I am often late to appointments or late handing in assignments, projects or tasks)

I am often a perfectionist, wanting things to be "just right". I will sometimes re-do parts of assignments or tasks in order to make them perfect.

Background noises or activity will easily distract me from my tasks. I often want to "check out" what else is going on around me.

I frequently forget, misplace, or lose things I require to do my work (keys, cellphone, lists, notebooks, assignments, glasses, wallet, etc.)

I often shift from one activity or project to another. I think of other things that need to be done or I just think of other ideas as I am doing the task in front of me.

I have several unfinished projects going on at the same time. I often fail to finish my assignments, projects or tasks. (and/or other people often say that I do not finish what I start.

I often have difficulty planning more complex projects or assignments. It takes me longer than usual to plan out activities, projects, assignments, or tasks.

YOUR SCORE IS:

INTERPRET YOUR SCORE: These scores are designed to give you an indication of difficulties you may be having. The tests on this website are NOT intended to replace actual consultation with a professional, nor to result in actual clinical diagnoses. If your symptoms are intense, persistent or become uncontrollable, you are encouraged to follow the therapeutic advice on these pages, discuss your difficulties with family and loved ones, and seek professional assistance through the services available from this website or elsewhere.

0 to 3 - Although you sometimes have difficulty concentrating and may be easily distracted at times, you do not appear to have enough clinical symptoms for a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. The advice on the following pages may still be useful to you.

4 to 6 - You are reporting several of the clinical symptoms found in individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder. Depending on how serious these symptoms interfere with your ability to perform daily tasks, function in school or at work, and accomplish tasks at home, you may want to further investigate the possibility of ADD. Some of the suggestions on the following pages will help you get started.

7 to 10 - You are experiencing many of the symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Disorder. The suggestions on the following pages may help, but it would be best to have a consultation with a professional in order to determine the severity and specifics of the difficulties you are having. A thorough evaluation is suggested if these symptoms have been preventing you from performing at your best in school, at work, or at home.

SUN CIRCLES-editAlthough there is no cure for ADHD, treatment can help control symptoms. There are several types of treatments available. Stimulant medications have been used to successfully treat ADHD symptoms for many years. Stimulants are used to treat both moderate and severe ADHD in adults and children over age six. Stimulants used to treat ADHD include:

  • Adderall and Adderall XR
  • Concerta
  • Cyclert
  • Dexedrine, Dexedrine Spansules Capsules
  • Focalin
  • Metadate CD, Metadate ER
  • Methylin
  • Ritalin, Ritalin LA
  • Strattera is the first nonstimulant treatment for ADHD. It is the first treatment approved to control ADHD symptoms in children, adolescents and adults.

Several types of antidepressant medications can be used to treat ADHD. Antidepressant therapy for ADHD is sometimes used as the initial treatment in children or adults who also suffer from significant depression. Antidepressants, however, are generally not as effective as stimulants or the newer nonstimulant treatments at improving attention span and concentration. It also may take two to four weeks for the full benefits of antidepressants to appear. Antidepressant medications may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Two other medications, Catapres and guanfacine, normally taken to treat high blood pressure, have been shown to be of some benefit for ADHD when used alone or in combination with stimulant drugs. The drugs can improve mental functioning as well as behavior in ADHD.
Learning behavior management techniques is considered to be an essential part of any successful ADHD treatment program. Most experts agree that combining medication treatments with extended behavior management is the most effective way to manage ADHD in children and adolescents. A multi-modality approach to treatment of the disorder aimed at assisting the child medically, psychologically, educationally and behaviorally is often most effective. This requires the coordinated efforts of a team of health care professionals, educators and parents who work together to identify treatment goals, design and implement interventions, and evaluate the results of their efforts.
Ideally, treatment should also include consideration of the individual’s psychological adjustment targeting problems involving self-esteem, anxiety, and difficulties with family and peer interaction. Frequently family therapy is useful along with behavioral and cognitive interventions to improve behavior, attention span, and social skills. Educational interventions such as accommodations made within the regular education classroom, compensatory educational instruction, or placement in special education may be required depending upon the particular child’s needs.
Students with ADHD may have more difficulty with spelling. They may not pay attention to detail when writing or may be careless. This can cause spelling errors. Some students may have weaknesses in auditory or visual memory which can also contribute to problems with spelling. Teach a phonetic approach to word analysis. Although many words are not spelled as they sound, a good understanding of phonics can be a powerful aid to weak spellers.
Students with ADHD often have difficulty with fine-motor control. This can affect their handwriting. For some, written work becomes so laborious they avoid it. Writing assignments that may take other students a few minutes, may take the student with fine-motor problems hours to complete. Encourage the student to use a sharp pencil and have an eraser available. Teach appropriate posture and how to position the paper correctly. Experiment with pencil grip, special papers, etc. Allow student to use laminated handwriting cards, containing samples of properly formed letters.
Over half of children with ADHD present challenging behavior which must be managed by parents or teachers. Behavior modification principles involving systematic delivery of reinforcements and punishments work pretty well. Parents and teachers who are structured, consistent, provide close supervision and feedback about behavior to children and teens with ADHD get the best results. Instruction in such strategies can be obtained through parent training groups offered in school districts or community clinics or practices. The following suggestions apply to parents and teachers:

  • Post house/school rules in a conspicuous place. Clearly communicated rules are helpful in maintaining proper behavior. Children with ADHD may need such rules to be reviewed daily. When possible, consequences for rule violations should be specified.
  • Be alert to early warning signs of a problem. Anticipate trouble brewing. Intervene quickly before a situation becomes problematic.
  • Provide concrete, visual examples of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Use role-playing to illustrate these behaviors giving students clear guidelines as to teacher expectations.
  • Establish routines for regular family or classroom activities (i.e. at home; cleaning room, doing homework, morning and bedtime tasks; at school; handing out and collecting papers in class, entering and leaving the room, taking attendance, answering questions, etc.)
  • Use proximity control to manage problem behavior. Stay near the child who is acting out so you can provide immediate, frequent praise for appropriate behavior and quickly intervene when/if negative behavior occurs.
  • Redirect the acting out child to more appropriate behavior when you notice inappropriate behavior (i.e., a student who is talking to another student could be redirected to get on task).
  • Praise positive behavior often Positive reinforcement is an effective way to motivate children to behave appropriately. Use of verbal praise can be extremely effective.

Seven Principles for Parents of ADHD Children and Teens

  • Provide unconditional love and positive regard.
  • Spend enjoyable time with your child. Become an AD/HD expert.
  • Model good values.
  • Provide structure at home with clear and consistent rules.
  • Monitor compliance with rules and check behavior regularly.
  • Inspire confidence as a parent-coach.