Frequently Asked Questions About ADHD
1.What is ADHD?
From the perspective of the clinician, ADHD is a medical condition that needs to
be correctly diagnosed and treated.
From the perspective of the scientist, ADHD is a mild neurological
condition usually caused by hereditary factors in about 80% of cases.
Weak stimulatory and inhibitory neuronal signals to the frontal lobes of the
brain results in symptoms of poor concentration, impulsivity and
hyperactivity that are beyond the control of the child.
From the perspective of the teacher, an ADHD child requires an excessive amount
of her time and energy, the routine of the class is constantly disrupted
and the progress of the whole class is slower.
From the perspective of the parents, they experience conflict and disruptions
both at home and at school. Often there are feelings of embarrassment and guilt because
of the child’s behavior and the complaints from school.
From my perspective, the lagging skills of emotional development mean that a child who
has many positive traits and capabilities will suffer social, academic and emotional difficulties.
Targeted brain exercises can cause the brain to grow and develop in the areas
of the brain which control these functions.
2. Does my child need to be tested?
Neuropsychological tests can not diagnose ADHD but may be useful.
They can help parents and clinicians to understand how the child processes
different types of information. It is useful when trying to identify and diagnose
learning disorders or specific skill deficiencies.
Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) is a computerized 25 minute visual
assessment procedure. This test is not endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics
guidelines for treatment of ADHD and is not in common clinical use in the U.S.
and many other countries, because of it's high level of false positives.
Your child must have a medical evaluation to rule out any other medical condition but
the diagnosis of ADHD is based on clinical history and the symptoms must be evident
in at least two different environments.
3. How do I know if my child has ADHD?
Children with ADHD have six of the following inattention symptoms and six of the
hyperactivity symptoms that are not age appropriate. Some of the symptoms must
have been evident before age seven and must be present in two settings, such as
home and school.
- Poor attention to details and careless mistakes in schoolwork
- Trouble sustaining attention if task is not exciting
- Forgetful in daily activity
- Loses things
- Dislikes exerting mental effort
- Fails to finish assignments at home and school
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to
- Difficulty organizing tasks or activities
Hyperactivity and impulsivity:
-On the go all the time
-Cannot sit in chair quietly
-Runs or climbs inappropriately
-Fidgets in seat
-Blurts out answers before questions are complete
-Difficulty waiting his turn
4. Is Ritalin addictive?
No. Although Ritalin is a stimulant, it does not have the same impact
on the brain as cocaine or amphetamine. It is completely cleared from the
nervous system in four hours. That is why the addictive potential is very small.
One would have to take many tablets at once and even then,
an affect similar to cocaine would be minimal. Long term use of Ritalin
(3 years of constant use) can cause a small reduction in height. Short term side
effects in a small percentage of children are: decreased appetite and sleep disturbances.
Ritalin has been used for more than 50 years. Children and adults with previous cardiac
disorders or serious psychiatric history should not take this medication.
5. Will my child do poorly in school?
Most likely your child will have difficulties during the school year and
will need closer instruction and supervision. ADHD does not preclude genius, talents or
creativity, but your child will have difficulty reaching his potential without skilled intervention.
It’s important that the teaching staff be aware of the condition and
learn effective ways of managing it. You should work out a system for monitoring homework, behavior and other issues.
Medication will usually help concentration and improve school performance. Most important,
start your child in a program of brain exercises to help him gradually improve concentration
and control impulsivity. Medication is the beginning of treatment; no need for medication is the end goal.
6. Is my child at risk for accidents and injuries?
Yes. You must be aware that because of hyperactivity, poor concentration,
lack of judgment and impulsivity as well as a strong desire to do exciting
activities, children with ADHD are more prone to accidents and injuries than
other children. Untreated ADHD teenagers and adults are four times more prone
to automobile accidents than the general population.
7. What causes ADHD?
ADHD results from a deficiency of neurotransmitters in the frontal lobes of the brain.
Therefore, all mental and physical activities controlled by this area of the brain will be
weak. Decision making, planning, concentration and impulse control are all weak.
ADHD-like symptoms can be caused by alcohol exposure or smoking during pregnancy as well
as low birth weight or complications of pregnancy or delivery.
Maternal psychopathology, family stress such as divorce or job loss can cause ADHD-like symptoms.
8. Can poor parenting cause ADHD?
No. Poor parenting can not cause ADHD although, of course, it can make it worse.
I prefer to compare good parents and effective parents. The vast majority of parents
are good parents. However, it takes certain knowledge and skills to be effective parents.
ADHD children need effective parenting as do all children.
9. What can parents do to help their ADHD child?
Most cases of ADHD have a biological cause which means you should accept it and not
blame yourself or anyone else. Once your doctor has confirmed the diagnosis of ADHD,
symptoms can be treated with medication like Ritalin that will reduce the symptoms in
about 70% of cases. However, Ritalin does not cause growth and development in the brain.
You can learn to coach your child to develop these lagging
emotional and mental skills with brain exercises and collaborative problem solving.
10. How is Dr. Gimpel’s new approach for treating ADHD different from other existing methods and why is it so effective?
Some of the existing medical and psychological approaches seem to help control some of the symptoms.
However, none of them actually correct the deficiency. ADHD needs a comprehensive approach to
maximize brain development and correct the neurotransmitter deficiency. When this new approach is
fully implemented consistently for six months, many of the ADHD symptoms will diminish or disappear
completely. Within this time period, medication can be gradually reduced and then
eliminated. It is only in the last few years that the dramatic plasticity and interconnectedness
of the brain has been understood and applied to mental difficulties.
Best of all, the mental stimulation and growth is entirely natural and can not interfere
with creativity, talents or personality development.