Rick Webster's son, Richy, stood out at school -- but not necessarily in a
good way. He wasn't doing his homework, he was having combative interactions
with teachers, and his grades were suffering as a result. While his classmates
had trouble once in a while, Richy's difficulties were constant. Rick and his
wife tried to get their 14-year-old son to focus on his studies, but the more
they pushed, the more his behavior spiraled out of control. The yelling, a
steady stream of calls from the school, and Richy's failing grades fueled the
ever-present sense of strain in their home.
After months of struggling, Richy's parents and teachers met to discuss the
situation. As they talked through his issues, each describing how the boy's
behavior was having a negative impact on his academic and family life, it
became more obvious than ever that Richy needed some help.
ADHD is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity. ADHD begins in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. About 30% to 50% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as adults.
Symptoms of ADHD can differ from person to person, but there are three basic types of ADHD. Each one is identified by some combination of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. When activity levels are normal or low, the type is usually called primarily...
"We started with a pediatrician, but ended up at a psychiatric center," says
Rick. "After several sessions and endless questions about Richy's behavior, we
learned that his actions were symptomatic of ADHD."
ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is diagnosed by a trained
clinician -- for example, a psychiatrist, psychologist, or pediatrician. The
clinician rules out other possible causes for the symptoms, such as a learning
disability or undetected seizures; conducts a thorough physical examination;
asks parents and teachers to describe the child's behavior; and, finally,
spends time with the child to learn how he or she behaves during situations
that demand self-control and attention, including reading, working math
problems, and playing a board game. Children with the disorder often show lack
of attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that are ongoing, disruptive, and
inappropriate for their age.
The process can evaluate the symptoms and lead to a diagnosis of ADHD, which
affects more than 2 million kids such as Richy in the United States today.
"Learning about Richy's ADHD was the first step in helping him and our family
get back on track," says Rick.
But Richy's diagnosis brought something else to light for Rick: The
conversation Rick and his wife had with Richy's teachers reminded him of his
own youth and his troubles with school, with peers, and with his parents. And
he thought of his continued struggles into adulthood with seemingly simple
tasks: organizing his calendar, focusing on projects, and getting out of the
house on time each morning.
In fact, Richy's diagnosis made Rick realize ADHD just might run in the