Dr. Russell A. Barkley, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, is an authority on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He's the author of "ADHD and the Nature of Self Control" and "Taking Charge of ADHD."
He'll be sharing his expertise at the Feb. 4 conference of the Utah Association of School Psychologists, where he'll be the keynote speaker.
ADHD is a complicated subject. The definition alone is long and complex and seems subject to interpretation.
Deseret Morning News: What's the credible research showing regarding the causes of ADHD?
Deseret Morning News: What's the credible research showing regarding the treatments or methods of helping a child with ADHD?
Deseret Morning News: What would you tell parents who have just faced up to the fact that they have an ADHD child who is difficult to manage?
Russ Barkley: First, it's not your fault. As I noted above, the disorder is largely of genetic and neurological origins. So, give up the guilt. Second, while parents may not cause ADHD, they can determine just how impaired a child will be and whether that child goes on to also develop serious defiance or depression by how they deal with the child. Lax or abusive disciplining not only won't help but may contribute to additional problems.
Third, we know more about ADHD and its treatment today than at any time in history, so be thankful you weren't raising one of these kids 20-30 years ago.
Fourth, be careful what you learn from TV and the popular media, which often tend to sensationalize or scandalize stories about ADHD, medications or its causes.
Deseret Morning News: What are the signs parents should be aware of that may indicate their child may have ADHD?
Deseret Morning News: What should parents do if they think their child has ADHD?
Russ Barkley: Of course, see your family physician assuming they are knowledgeable about ADHD. If not, find the nearest medical school and see a developmental pediatrician with special training in behavioral disorders.
Deseret Morning News: What about medications? Are there any new ones? What's on the horizon? How do they work? What is their effect?
Russ Barkley: Two recent developments have really helped treatment. First, there was the development of the new once-a-day delivery systems for the older drugs we had (methylphenidate or Ritalin, Dexedrine). These new delivery systems last 8-12 hours and mean kids don't have to take doses at school any more a real benefit to kids.
Deseret Morning News: Can children with ADHD be successful later in life? What will life likely hold for them? Can they be employed? What are the chances their children will have it?
Russ Barkley: Yes, they can be successful, provided that treatments have been sustained through childhood and adolescence and where serious conduct problems or antisocial behavior can be minimized. They are certainly employable, and many find that certain jobs fit with their symptoms, such as door-to-door salesperson, musician or performing artist, the military (very structured), the trades (hands on, less conceptual long-range thinking), etc.
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