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ABC’s of ADHD
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and parent’s anecdotal experiences have confirmed that the rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have been on the rise for several years now. While there is much debate as to whether there is more “mis-diagnosis” of ADHD or we’re seeing an actual increase, it’s critical to understand the condition fully.
ADHD can make it difficult to concentrate, maintain attention, and or focus on a particular task. For some, hyperactivity may also be present. These symptoms can make school, work, and relationships difficult to manage. So if you have a child labeled as a “social butterfly” or a “class clown” or someone who “just can’t sit still in class,” be certain to dig deeper into behavioral and other possible explanations. Symptoms of ADHD can mimic other things like anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, to hyperthyroidism.
Interestingly, studies have not found any significant differences in rates of ADHD by race or ethnicity, however gender is a different story. CDC data says about 9.5% of children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. However, 13.2% of boys have been diagnosed as compared to only 5.6% of girls. And while it seems there are no significant racial differences among black and white children when it comes to diagnsosis, numerous studies have shown that when African American males are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder their prognosis tends to be worse and other associated disorders tend to be greater. In fact, there have been public debates in several states, including Florida, Georgia, and Texas that when adult white women assess black boys, they more often are diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medication vs. any other race or ethnicity. With this in mind African American boys and men must always been vigilant in managing their health. Parents must ask questions, and get second and even third opinions if they are uncomfortable with a potentially stigmatizing diagnosis.
Factors that have been found to potentially be associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD include genetics, diet, smoking, pesticides, and changes in family dynamics (kids are managing themselves more while mom and dad are working longer hours). Factors that have been found to help manage and treat ADHD include medication, psychotherapy, regular cardiovascular exercise, and changes in diet that decrease fast processed foods and increase organic fruits and vegetables. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have some of the symptoms of ADHD make an appointment with a health care provider to have a thorough assessment and formal diagnosis made and leaving the fast food behind wont hurt either.
Call the National Resource Center on ADHD at 1-800-233-4050 for any questions and to get the facts!
Don Elligan, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Chicago. He is also a tenured professor, author, and public speaker. Dr. Elligan is a regularly contributes to healthyblackmen.org.