Most people hear about ADHD from news reports, teachers, and other parents. They have a vague idea that it has something to do with school: Young boys who can’t pay attention in math class and end up disrupting the entire lesson.
Parents think it is about children that you avoid inviting to play dates or birthday parties, or about teenagers that are careless drivers. The general public knows ADHD is usually at the center of a big controversy about giving medication to young children.
Most people’s attitude is: "I don’t need to worry about it" – until, of course, you do. Why? It turns out that there are many more youths and adults with ADHD than we ever imagined.
It is one of the most common childhood disorders (National Institutes of Health) and experts estimate that up to seven million youths, 18 and under, and some 13 million adults may have it.
Just this week, in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines recommending that doctors should evaluate their young patients for ADHD as early as age 4 – the earliest age ever. And there is good reason for this: The earlier youths are diagnosed, the earlier they can be treated, and the greater chance they have for success in school, in family life, and with friends. Many people don’t realize that ADHD has lots of positives – high energy, hyperfocus, and creativity -- if you get it treated.
I should know. I was diagnosed at age 5, and I think I’ve done all right.
ADHD is about inattention and how it impacts the executive functions, the management system in the brain. “Attention is an incredibly complex, multifaceted function of the mind,” said Thomas Brown, PhD, assistant clinical professor, psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine. “It plays a crucial role in what we perceive, remember, think, feel and do. And it is not just one isolated activity of the brain. The continuous process of attention involves organizing, focusing, regulating alertness, sustaining effort, and managing frustration,” Dr. Brown continued, in addition to other functions.
It’s ADHD Awareness Week, and I think we should celebrate all these wonderful minds – but first they have to be better understood.
This article was written by Blake Taylor, author and Health Blogger for teenDailyStrength, who writes on his personal experience and success with ADHD. teenDailyStrength is a new community made just for teens, covering what matters in health and in life. Check it out!