ADHD…How Did I Miss It?

By Howard Chusid, Ed.D, LMHC, NCC

In my practice, I see both adults and children with ADHD. It doesn’t surprise anymore me to see a twenty-six-year-old who hasn’t done well in school, who is not succeeding in life and who’s wondering what is wrong with them. Then they are diagnosed with ADHD. What does surprise me is how long it took to be diagnosed.

I don’t blame the patient; I believe our education system is at fault. How could a teacher not see something is wrong? ADHD is not a hidden problem that only appears on weekends or vacations, it is there at all times. When a student cannot sit still, always walks around the room, talks to their neighbors and maybe causes trouble in the class, are all signs. This behavior does not happen in just one class but in many classes. It does not happen in just one term but many terms. So, why does no one put it all together? How could our teachers miss it? Or taken another way, why don’t our teachers care?

The next question is not for the teachers but for the parents. I understand parents may not be academically equipped to make a diagnosis, but we do see our children? We do know when our children are difficult, acting up, or just obnoxious. Those issues alone may not be a telltale sign, but when put together with bad grades at school, teachers complaints, our children saying they are unhappy and don’t want to go to school, that should be enough of a signal something may not be correct. So, how are parents missing it?

I have seen too many adults with ADHD who have problems with their job, (if they have one), they can’t cope or read well and are afraid to admit that to anyone. Some never graduated high school, having dropped out rather than continue their bad educational experience. Some can’t maintain a relationship and don’t know why. They get married and it doesn’t work out so they want a divorce. Many times, they have been married more than twice and still do not understand what the problems are. They can’t get along and it’s always the other person’s fault.

I could go on and on, but the scenarios don’t really change. The only thing that changes is the ages of the patients; they get older and nothing is done. They have problems in their workplace, they rarely succeed, the work is never done and they have problems with their boss. All this is a continuation of their schooling and of how they were raised.

So, how do we stop the cycle? What can we do to start these people on a better path? The easy answer is if they come seeking help and want to stop the carnage of their lives, we can help.

Our schools need to do a better job identifying these children who exhibit ADHD tendencies. I see no reason why a school counselor or teacher cannot review their school records to determine if testing for ADHD is necessary. At the very least the child will be looked at and maybe an alternative suggestion will be found to assist this youngster.

If a parent feels their child is not acting appropriately they could take the child to a professional for an evaluation. A physician can make an evaluation based on all the information which would send a child for further study. If a parent sees their children are not acting the same as other children of the same age, then a doctor’s visit is needed.

Not attending to the needs of an ADHD child has ramifications in adulthood. They may not be able to make it on their own. They may not be able to hold a job, pay their bills and may be dependent on others for assistance. They may have no friends and may not be able to take care of their children or make decisions that will cripple their children as they are growing up. We are just multiplying the problems.

What do we do? If you suspect that your children may have a problem, get them to your physician. You may want to speak to the school and get their views, meet with all their teachers and hear them out. You may want to speak with the parents of your child’s friends to see if anything strange is occurring in their home.

There is a lot you can do, but first, you need to want to do it. Awareness in the education system and for parents is the first step in helping your ADHD child grows into a successful adult.

 

Howard Chusid, Ed.D, LMHC, NCC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified Professional Counselor. He also has ADD himself. Dr. Chusid is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family and Circuit Civil Mediator and works with divorcing couples with special needs children. http://www.Thehelpingplacefl.com 

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      • Carolyn Keane
      • July 12, 2017
      Reply

      I am at my wit’s end. I am a 58 year old female, who always had ADD. My friends would joke about it. Since giving up alcohol 6 years ago, things have drastically changed, and now I realize, because I’m no longer self medicating, which in actuality was drinking enough to quiet the voices in my head. I began looking further into adult ADHD, which I had no idea was a ADA. Because in April, I was almost fired for an outburst. I only began on medication in April, and the only change I see is that I get angrier, quicker, and it becomes out of control.

      I can not find a ADHD coach or therapist in my area. Just today, I had to be spoken to at work, and was almost fired. I’m almost at the point, of seeing if I can get disability, because I’m truly not sure how much more of this I can take. Do you believe, at work, they asked me to stop “deeply sighing”. That is my anxiety!!!!!

        • adda-ADMIN
        • July 12, 2017
        Reply

        There are many options for you:

        To help you get the professional help you might need, ADDA provides a directory of professionals serving adults with ADHD at https://add.org/professional-directory/ I know you may not find a professional in your area, but, remember that while you may not be able to find all the professionals you need close to where you live, many offer services by phone or Skype and so location is not always a restriction.

        While you would probably need to get your initial diagnosis and testing in person, you only need to do this once, so you while you may need to travel to reach someone qualified, you won’t do it often. Your best bet is to find a psychiatrist (prescribes meds), psychologist/therapist (does therapy), neuropsychologist (does testing) who is familiar with ADHD to discuss your symptoms and possible diagnosis.

        In fact, many adults with ADHD work with a team of care providers (psychiatrist/medical doctor and psychologist or coach) and often prefer to work with a coach remotely as there is less time lost to travel, you have more coaches to choose from and they find working with a coach remotely less distracting, as you can work in your own familiar environment rather than being distracted by what there is to see in the coach’s office.

        If you prefer to work with someone where you live and you can’t find one in our directory, there are other directories available.

        I would also recommend a support group for adults with ADHD. You may not find what you’re looking for locally, but ADDA offers members a Virtual Peer Support Group where adults with ADHD can talk to other people living the same experience. Incidentally, our support groups have quite a following of 50+ women.

        If you’d like to meet with other adults with ADHD without leaving the comfort and privacy of your home, ADDA Virtual Peer Support groups offer ADDA members the opportunity to connect with peers for support in a safe non-judgmental environment. At these groups, you’ll find people who are FOUNTAINS of knowledge and resources. ADDA Virtual Support Groups are always free for ADDA members. You can learn more here: https://add.org/adhd-support-groups/

        Some people feel strange about going to a support group initially but of all the folks we refer to support groups that actually go, almost all of them say they are so glad they went. Many other individuals are going through the same thing. It’s an amazing feeling to be around other people who get you and it will help her feel less alone and more empowered.

        Good luck!

      • Elle Mesquita
      • July 8, 2017
      Reply

      Hello,
      I am a 42 year old woman who was not diagnosed until the age of 31. My background includes teaching in a public school for 9 years. From 2001-2010, I taught sixth grade English. I hold a dual certification, Elementary Education, (k-8) and General Special Education,(k-12). I don’t think that teachers should be targeted for the responsibility of starting the testing process. It takes a village to raise a child, and unfortunately many people give birth to children but fail to parent them. There seemed to be a trend in parenting that I noticed during the time that I taught. It’s the mentality of blaming every disappointment or flaw on others and neglecting to step up to taking accountability for our actions. We don’t want our children to have low self esteem or be bullied, but this trend took it to an extreme level. I noticed at certain events everyone getting an award, both teams winning? That is not realistic. In life you don’t always win, and you need to experience losing in order to be able to deal with unfortunate events to survive in this world. Many meeting with parents do not go very smoothly when you mention that their child may have attentional issues and can’t stop interrupting during class. Often the teacher gets accused of picking on their child. There is no magic answer to educating people about a mental health issue that many don’t believe in. I wish that more celebrities and sports stars would come forward with their personal experiences and issues that they face. We need to spread awareness and inform everyone, in particular, parents that have a child that is struggling with reading in kindergarten and doesn’t progress to reading on grade level by second grade. This is such a strong indicator of a child with attentional issues. So many students are identified with learning disabilities when early intervention and medication would have saved them from the stigma of having an IEP, not to mention the money that is involved in going through the testing process. Unnecessary meetings, paperwork, pscychologists, maybe then teachers could concentrate on teaching. No pun intended.

      • Joanne Murphy
      • July 3, 2017
      Reply

      Recently diagnosed at 56. I’m having to come to terms with that ! And the fact that with new technology, And new challenges , it’s increasingly harder to hide my problems at work . I spent so many years feeling less then and not smart . Now I’m angry I wasn’t smart enough to realize that I had this problem. It went unnoticed in my family because there was so many problems . I have asked for text to speech at my job but I am told it doesn’t exist in my capacity I work from 7A to 7:30 PM but sometimes I can’t leave my job until two in the morning because of the charting. Does anyone have suggestions

      • Tricia Attruia
      • June 24, 2017
      Reply

      Most of my people in my life don’t believe it either . Or depression- they have no clue , but I realize this is not the site to discuss THAT mess I am in…

    1. Reply

      Hi Deanna,
      Agreed, the parents need to do something, but the teacher who notices can make a recommendation to the guidance counselor to check into it. Once their is paperwork on the record, the school system has a harder time of not doing anything. Many times teachers get together to discuss students, and the same names come up, at that time a counselor can be brought in also. I know it is frustrating, just as frustrating as seeing a competent 25 year old who has been told that she is dumb and stupid and reacts that way. It infuriates me, since it doesn’t have to be like that. I only wish that more teachers would do something about it, at least notate it on the record and indicate that you gave the information to the guidance counselor. It isn’t the best scenario, but it is a start.

      • Karen
      • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      If a parent, aunt, or uncle, have undiagnosed ADHD, they’re more likely to miss it, as it will seem normal.
      Inattentive ADHD must be missed all the time, in girls AND in boys. It appears in boys too (although it’s more prevalent in girls), yet every reference to it says, “especially in girls.”

      • Reply

        Hi Karen,
        You are correct, if you are on a train with hundreds of other people, and you tell someone to find you as the person with the white shirt, it will be hard to find you, since many people wear white shirts. But, if you are wearing a purple shirt, it will be easier to find you. With our kids, I agree that in a family where many have ADD/HD it would be hard to see, but a teacher in a classroom should easily see your child, regardless of the color of shirt they are wearing. Teachers should be able to easily pick out those who don’t do their homework, who fall asleep in class, who are bored, who have little respect for others, etc. . In short, at home it is hard to see, but in the classroom your child should stand out. So, how come your child wasn’t noticed???

          • Darby
          • June 25, 2017
          Reply

          I think part of how a child could be missed by a teacher depends on where their interests lie. If they have a lot of motivation to actually succeed (or at least do well enough) in school, then the symptoms won’t be as obvious. Also it’s possible the child could ‘power through’ the tasks required at school. (AKA They think through what they need to do as a means of compensating for their weaker executive functioning skills.) I think all kids do this; some are better than others. In that instance, the ‘obvious’ symptoms for ADHD of all types (Inattentive, Hyperactive, and Combination) may not become so obvious until the child finally hits some level of schooling (or real life, if they’re able to get all the way through high school) where they’re unable to just ‘power through’ like they could before.
          Another potential reason why a child might be missed is if they don’t fit into the stereotype of a kid who obviously has ADHD (young boy who’s unable to not bounce off the walls while in class). Teachers might be getting better about noticing when a student has some form of ADHD, but some of the ‘obvious’ symptoms that would suggest ADHD could be caused by a myriad of things, like another learning disability, the child’s personality, and events happening in their lives that may have a major effect on their school ability. Granted, if something is apparently wrong with a student, a teacher should try to look into it to see what might be going on. But if that teacher has a classroom of at least 20-30 students, it may be very difficult to keep track of everyone.

      • Karen
      • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      There’s so much stigma and scepticism about ADHD. Some people still don’t believe it’s real! Parents hear and read criticism about medicating behaviour. If the school doesn’t raise any concerns, many parents will assume that everything must be fine. My son’s guidance counsellor once joked that, “everyone born in the 1980’s has ADHD,” and he’s a guidance counsellor! The lack of education and the abundance of myths and stigma are hurting people with (undiagnosed) ADHD.

      • Deanna Bernstein
      • June 22, 2017
      Reply

      I’ve been teaching in a low-income school for 10 years. My father, son, niece, and I all have ADHD. I’m very confident in my ability to spot the signs of ADHD. In fact, I feel that educators are in a better position to diagnose than pediatricians. However, educators’ hands are tied. There has to be a diagnosis for the school to put any support in place, but we cannot make the diagnosis. It’s up to the parents to take their child to a pediatrician or psychologist to get a diagnosis. I can show the parent evidence and facts that point to a high probability of their child having ADHD until I’m blue in the face, but most of my low income parents do nothing about it. It’s very frustrating.

        • Megan
        • June 28, 2017
        Reply

        I totally agree. Teachers do know the signs; teachers do recommend students to the school counselor ( via TIER paperwork and a SAT( student assistant team); teachers do mention these things to parents; teachers do not make the medical diagnosis of ADHD. However, school districts require weeks, at least 6 weeks of data tracking and interventions before students move up a tier…. you know what? NEVERMIND.

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