Many of us may know a child or adult with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), but what separates the condition from the natural tendency to lose focus every now and then, whether that is in school or later in life with work?
Dr. Asim A. Shah, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at BCM and of family and community medicine, says the classic signs are lack of attention and focus, inability to complete tasks and disorganization.
School-aged children with ADHD may be easier to spot. In larger classes, it will be harder for them to focus, they may squirm and fidget and their grades will suffer. Some may also have issues sleeping, he said.
If undiagnosed, the problems will continue to affect the child’s grades and could progress to college and adulthood. In adults, constant problems with concentration, focus and organization and task completion at work are clear warning signs.
Parents can be referred by a pediatrician and, for adults, their general practitioner for proper evaluation and diagnosis of the disorder.
Shah, also chief of psychiatry at the Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital, warns that the only way to confirm an ADHD diagnosis is through a psychiatric evaluation—phenomenal boredom and lack of caring about school or work are not a clear indication of ADHD.
Children and adults with real ADHD issues have serious problems with concentration and focus that require medication. Taking medications when you do not actually have ADHD can be harmful, particularly in teens. The drugs are stimulants that can be abused and should be monitored very carefully by a parent or responsible adult.
Think a loved one may have signs of ADHD? Call 713-798-7700 to contact the Baylor Family Medicine clinic.
-By Glenna Picton