Are We Paying Attention to Deficit Disorder? A Disorder Too Often is Missed
Teachers are constantly telling them to pay attention, sit still and try harder. These students often are trying hard. Very hard. But they are constantly battling themselves. The problem: a disability that is invisible because people see only the handicap. Children labeled hyper, lazy or even slow learners often have a neurological chemical imbalance called “Attention Deficit Disorder.”
“I see a lot of children with ADD (with or without hyperactivity),” said Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D., child psychologist in Melbourne. “It’s a real neurological disorder and I think we’re getting better at defining the symptoms that go along with this disorder.
” It’s been called a number of names—minimal brain dysfunction, organic brain syndrome—and each time the diagnostic manuals update it, it seems to be better defined.”
Panaccione said children with hyperactivity disorders are easy to identify, but those who are not hyper and have ADD, who still are distracted, impulsive and inattentive, often get missed.
Those children, she said, need further diagnosis, psychological assessments and behavior ratings. “ADD kids, if not diagnosed and treated, can develop secondary symptoms of poor peer relations, poor self-esteem, lack of confidence because they’re not able to, or have a weakness in their ability to manage themselves,” Panaccione said. “If we catch it early, then perhaps the secondary symptoms won’t develop.” She said it is important to work with parents as well as the children and the schools in treating ADD.
“I teach parents how to set behavior limits for children who cannot limit and structure themselves, and I also teach strategies for helping children learn how to compensate for their weaknesses, such as making charts to help them remember what their morning routine should be or using timers and beat-the-clock games to help them stay on task.”
As published in Florida Today.
© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.