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