Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD): What Every Parent Should Know

4. What is the relationship between ADHD and other disorders, such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder or depression?

Coexisting conditions occur in most children clinically treated for ADHD. ADHD can co-occur with learning disabilities (15 to 25 percent), language disorders (30 to 35 percent), conduct disorder (15 to 20 percent), oppositional defiant disorder (up to 40 percent), mood disorders (15 to 20 percent) and anxiety disorders (20 to 25 percent). Up to 60 percent of children with tic disorders also have ADHD. Impairments in memory, cognitive processing, sequencing, motor skills, social skills, modulation of emotional response and response to discipline are common. Sleep disorders are also more prevalent.

5. How are schools involved in diagnosing, assessing and treating ADHD?

Schools are federally mandated to perform an appropriate evaluation if a child is suspected of having a disability that impairs academic functioning. This policy was strengthened by regulations implementing the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which guarantees appropriate services and a public education to children with disabilities from ages three to 21. For the first time, ADHD is included as a qualifying condition for special education services. If the assessment performed by the school is inadequate or inappropriate, parents may request that an independent evaluation be conducted at the school's expense. Furthermore, some children with ADHD qualify for special education services within the public schools, under the category of "Other Health Impaired." In these cases, the special education teacher, school psychologist, school administrators and classroom teachers, along with parents, must assess the child's strengths and weaknesses and design an Individualized Education Program. These special education services for children with ADHD are available though IDEA.

6. Can a preschool child be diagnosed with ADHD?

The diagnosis of ADHD in the preschool child is possible, but can be difficult and should be made cautiously by experts well trained in childhood neurobehavioral disorders. Developmental problems, especially language delays and adjustment problems can sometimes imitate ADHD. Treatment should focus on placement in a structured preschool with parent training and support. Stimulants can reduce oppositional behavior and improve mother-child interactions, but they are usually reserved for severe cases or when a child is unresponsive to environmental or behavioral interventions

7. Is ADHD inherited?

Research shows that ADHD tends to run in families, so there are likely to be genetic influences. Children who have ADHD usually have at least one close relative who also has ADHD. And at least one-third of all fathers who had ADHD in their youth have children with ADHD. Even more convincing of a possible genetic link is that when one twin of an identical twin pair has the disorder, the other is likely to have it too.

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