The ADD Dilemma

How do you know when a child has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and needs medication?

A peer recently asked me this question, and I think many people who have or work with children wonder the same.

My initial response to this would be to refer the child to a licensed psychologist who can evaluate and diagnose this. Generally, these licensed professionals use a formal assessment tool or multiple tools, conduct an interview with caregivers, and then conduct a thorough evaluation of the child.

Through the years, I believe this has been one of a handful of mental health diagnoses that many people tend to use informally about themselves or about a child in question. I remember a time earlier in my career when we saw a rapid spike in children being diagnosed with clinical attention issues. I recall environmental changes occurring back then. It seems to be that lifestyle pace and technological advances were becoming more rapid. People had less structured traditional roles and work schedules, community activity participation was on the rise, and parenting behaviors were shifting.

One of the most common issues I see when a child is exhibiting behavioral difficulties that appears to be inattention, when they are young, seems to be inaccurate parental assumptions about the child. With this shift in parenting I have observed, it seemed that parents were, often times, treating their children as adults regarding competency and emotional maturity.

I also observed a shift in the quality in the time spent with children. There appeared to be less and less down time which is needed for shaping social skills for society – not just to be able to relate successfully with other same age peers. This fleeting from one thing to the next combined with little quality time seemed to increase as time went on.

Of importance is that teachers, although good informants, are not necessarily qualified to diagnose clinical attention issues.

There are many factors across the child’s life domains that need examined. These observable behavioral issues could be addressed first before pharmacological intervention may be necessary. However, caregivers should ensure that consistent application of therapeutic techniques across life domains occurs.

From an energy psychology standpoint, this is keeping the child brain comfortable in fight, flight or freeze, looking for the “next thing.” This new rapid lifestyle pace does not lend to a lifestyle of taking time to understand how relaxation that is helpful for the brain can be practiced.

Many factors can appear to mimic inattention, hyperactivity, and disorganization in young children, but there are many factors that can be explored with the help of a licensed professional to reduce these behaviors before clinical evaluation may be necessary.If you have questions about your child, contact me for more information!