What to Know Before Your Child Takes an ADHD “Test”

Hey there, ADHD'rs!

It's been a while since my last post, but I am so happy to read your emails and hear that this is still a valuable blog for so many of you and your loved ones. Today I'm here with a guest post from Melanie Valenzuela from Cerebrum Health Centers.

The topic of "What to Know Before Your Child Takes an ADHD 'Test'" is one that's so relevant today. Melanie's breakdown is clear and concise, and I hope it will help parents witnessing ADHD-like symptoms in their children make the right decision about whether or not to get them tested.

So, without further adieu, take it away, Melanie!

What to Know Before Your Child Takes an ADHD “Test”

Does your child have a tough time with his or her behavior? Is it becoming a problem at school, home or socially? Do you suspect your child might have ADHD? Many children may seem to have symptoms of this disorder which could also be something completely different or just a phase. How do you know? Don’t panic. Take a deep breath, and then take a look at the following information to see if you might want to pursue a professional ADHD diagnosis or investigate to see if your child may be having a hard time with something else. And rest assured knowing that if it is ADHD, many ADHD treatment options are available to help.

How old is your child?
The general feeling in current medicine is that true ADHD can be seen in a child before the age of seven years old and the symptoms and behaviors must be present for over six months. If your child falls outside of these guidelines, most likely there is something else at work and not necessarily ADHD; your child could be depressed or have anxiety over a current situation at school or home. There could be other learning difficulties present or symptoms of a hearing or vision issue. And while ADHD can and does affect both boys and girls, boys seem to be about three times more likely to have ADHD.

Does your child exhibit symptoms in more than one area of life?
For ADHD, the behaviors associated with it occur in more than one type of setting: home, school, out in the community or at play. Issues in only one area, like at school, might be a conflict with a teacher, classmate or group of students. But behavior issues in both school and at home, or at home and on the playground may be related to ADHD.

Do they exhibit all three symptoms of ADHD?
Current information about ADHD says that your child should be exhibiting all three of the following symptoms in order to be classified as truly having ADHD.
1.      Inattention-being easily distracted and not being able to complete tasks
2.    Hyperactivity-always having trouble staying still or quiet
3.    Impulsivity- having trouble with waiting their turn or making hasty decisions not thought out

How is ADHD diagnosed?
First, be aware that there is no one “test” that can definitively say your child has ADHD.  You may need input from those who observe or interact with your child on a regular basis, including teachers, coaches, or a babysitter. That being said, if your child exhibits the behaviors listed above in more than one area of their life and on a regular basis, you may receive a positive diagnosis by a professional. If the behaviors don’t seem to ease, this also may point to a positive diagnosis of ADHD.

How is ADHD treated?
Just as there is no one definitive test, there is also no one treatment or “cure” for ADHD. But symptoms can be treated with great success and most people, once diagnosed, can go on to lead not just productive, but very successful lives in future endeavors. Many famous people have been diagnosed with ADHD so it does not have to inhibit your child’s future success.

ADHD treatment usually consists of a combination of medical and behavioral treatments. Stimulants, other non-stimulants or antidepressants are the types of medications used. Behavioral therapy for ADHD may include things such as more organization, and routine, fewer distractions and limited choices, a different type of discipline than before, and/or using a goals and rewards system to moderate behavior in positive ways.

Don’t panic or get frustrated if you suspect your child has ADHD. Having information about whether your child exhibits the most common systems of the disorder will help you decide whether to investigate further. And if they do, know that many ADHD treatments are available that can and should be tailored to your child. Your child can be as productive as the next child. Arm yourself with information and keep a positive outlook. Your child will feed off of your attitude. Together you can work to improve the current situation greatly.

Melanie Valenzuela has been writing about business topics for several years and currently writes on behalf of the ADHD specialists at Cerebrum Health Centers. When not writing, she can be found working on her world perspective through travel; or challenging her heart rate by playing tennis, running or attending a Kansas City Royals baseball game. You can find her on LinkedIn.


What Tina Fey & Improv Can Teach about Saying "Yes and...!"

I was listening to the audiobook of Tina Fey's memoir Bossypants, when Ms. Fey started to describe how improv comedy has influenced her daily life, "As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. 'No, we can’t do that.' 'No, that’s not in the budget.' 'No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?"

As someone who prides herself on saying "yes" to new ideas, "yes" to new challenges, and "yes" to new forks in the road, this struck me as the only way I know how to live. We ADHD'rs, whether we like it or not, see opportunities where others see only walls. It's why "no" often rubs us the wrong way. We hear "no" a lot, in fact. Especially in childhood before we've learned to effectively articulate our "out of the box" ideas. We often feel misunderstood and assume that "no" is a reflection of the flaws in our character.

Take a breath. Sometimes "no" is simply brought on by someone not yet having that "aha!" moment and got your vision. So don't turn your back on "yes." As ADHD'rs, the #1 Rule of Improv ("Yes and") is actually one of our core strengths and an example of how we collaborate well with others.

When it comes to improv comedy, "Yes and" means accepting what your fellow actors have introduced to a given scene and then building on it. Ms. Fey explains, "If I start a scene with 'I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,' and you just say, 'Yeah…' we’re kind of at a standstill. But if I say, 'I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,' and you say, 'What did you expect? We’re in hell.' Or if I say, 'I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,' and you say, 'Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.' Or if I say, 'I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,' and you say, 'I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth,' now we’re getting somewhere." In my opinion, "Yes and" is a truly valuable form of active participation. With "Yes and" you do not halt new contributions, but advance what you and others are creating together. We ADHD'rs are masters of extrapolating, of web-thinking. "Yes and" is simply our way of social brainstorming.

In "The Tao of Improv: 5 Rules for Improvising Your Life," Robert Taibbi LCSW, offers 4 more rules of improv that can bolster your daily life:
Rule #2. Act / React.
Rule #3. You can look good if you make your partner look good.
Rule #4. Be truthful, be vulnerable.
Rule #5. There are no mistakes.
Improv is about being present and open to what you and others offer, day in and day out. While we all have our moments of rigidity, the least you can do is take a deep breath (perhaps a day, week, month, or year later) and promise to be more fluid in the future.

Do you recognize the rules of improv in your daily life? Which do you feel is the most valuable?

Want more ADHD Strengths & Super Powers?


What's the Connection between ADHD & Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?

Hey, guys. Long time no see! While I can't promise to post as frequently as I used to, I am still here to answer any questions you may have.

I can promise to post when I'm struck by something that I feel should be shared with my fellow ADHD'rs. In this case, the connection between RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity). About a week ago, when I was experiencing those creepy-crawly sensations often associated with RLS, I scoured Google for answers to whether the was a link between the two. Both ADHD and RLS, at face value, concern an uncomfortable physical sensation and inability to remain still. They also affect one's ability sleep. Although I have never been diagnosed with RLS, I have often wondered if it's something I have wrestled with or if the symptoms I've experienced are simply another sign of my ADHD. After all, I get those "creepy crawlies" after a week without exercise or exhausting the extra physical energy that comes with ADHD.

Well the universe - or online marketers - must have sensed my question, because this morning as I perused the Huffington Post, I scrolled down to find this article: How Your Depression or ADHD Might Be Restless Leg Syndrome. While I am no way suggesting that your ADHD might be RLS, I think it's a good idea to stay abreast of these developments and research. After all, for many of us, it takes our entire life to master ADHD and harness it's many qualities to our benefit (...I'm looking at you, my ADHD super heroes). If there's information that can better inform our journey, why not read, ruminate on, and question it?

As someone with ADHD, have you experience symptoms of RLS? How have you dealt with them?

For more information about the possible links between ADHD and RLS, see the articles below:
ADHD or RLS?...or Both? by Craig B.H. Surman MD
Diagnosing the Wrong Disorder by Vatsal G. Thakkar
ADHD and Coexisting Conditions: ADHD, Sleep and Sleep Disorders