What Is ADHD Awareness Month?
By: Patricia Oelze
Updated September 27, 2019
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10% of children aged 2-17 have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which equals approximately six million kids. However, thousands are undiagnosed and may never know that they have the disorder. While it is often discovered when the child starts school, this is not always the case. Whether this is from so many people being unaware of the disorder or from the stigma of mental health disorders in general, it is more important than ever for everyone to be aware of ADHD.
Children With ADHD
The earlier a child gets diagnosed with ADHD, the better off they will be since the first five years are the most crucial for emotional, intellectual, and physical development. For instance, if your child gets diagnosed in preschool at the age of three or four, they have a much better chance of being successfully treated. If a child goes undiagnosed, they tend to have trouble intellectually, behaviorally, as well as socially at school as well as at home. This is because children with ADHD have trouble focusing or concentrating, lack the ability to control their impulses, and tend to have a hard time sitting still.
What Is ADHD?
The description of ADHD is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults but is most often found when a child starts school. Some clinicians describe it as a persistent or ongoing pattern of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention that affects development. Those with ADHD have a hard time focusing on things or paying attention to anything for any amount of time. Their memory is also impacted as the brain is unable to organize and manage instructions or tasks. Some of the symptoms for a diagnosis of ADHD include:
- Interrupting others when speaking
- Cannot wait their turn
- Blurting out answers before the question is completed
- Excessive talking
- Inability to do anything quietly
- Running around or restlessness
- Difficulty staying in one place
- Constant fidgeting or squirming
- Easily distracted
- Forgets where they put things
- Very disorganized
- Cannot follow instructions well
- Seems to be unable to listen
- Cannot pay attention to anyone or anything very long
- Makes careless mistakes
The Importance Of ADHD Awareness
So you can see why it is important for everyone to be aware of ADHD no matter whether they are a parent, caregiver, teacher, or counselor. The disorder can be mistaken for a behavioral disorder as parents or teachers may think that the child is acting out on purpose or just being bad. Chances are, if your child is getting into trouble already in preschool or kindergarten for not paying attention or disrupting class, they may have ADHD and should be tested. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), and the ADHD Organisation (ACO) have gotten together to promote ADHD Awareness Month in October every year.
Causes Of ADHD
Although the exact cause of ADHD is not completely understood, mental health professionals are still researching this. However, there are some risk factors that clinicians have discovered. The difference between risk factors and cause is that risk factors are just situations or characteristics that can increase the likelihood of getting ADHD and a cause is something that would be the reason that ADHD happens. For instance, being a male is a risk factor for ADHD, but it does not mean that every male will get ADHD. Some of the risk factors for ADHD include:
- Genetics (can be passed on from family members)
- Low birth weight
- Different brain structure
- Environmental issues such as toxins or pollution
- Prenatal factors like cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs while pregnant
- Brain injuries
- Family history of other mental conditions like depression or anxiety disorder
Schools And ADHD
The most important thing about ADHD awareness is that people will know what to look for so they can spot it early because the earlier your child gets help, the better. Since it is typically found in grade school, there are no special programs in schools to help your child if they have ADHD. Section 504 is a federal civil rights statute that is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1991, and it prohibits schools from discriminating against children with disabilities. This is, so all children have the same opportunity to succeed. The 504 plan has accommodations that are devised by the school to help the child learn better despite their disability.
Another type of education plan for children with disabilities is an individualized education plan (IEP), which is governed by the individuals with disabilities education act, or IDEA. This plan is for children who have one of the specific disabilities, such as:
- Specific learning disabilities such as auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, and dyscalculia
- Intellectual disability such as down syndrome
- Traumatic brain injury
- Orthopedic impairment
- Health impairments such as the lack of strength, alertness, or energy
- Visual impairment such as blindness
- Speech or language impairment
- Emotional disturbances such as depression, ADHD, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar
These tools and methods may or may not include:
- Frequent breaks between tasks
- Swivel chairs
- Fidget spinners
- Behavioral contracts
- Sitting in the front row
- Independent test-taking
- Visual aids
- Extra books
- Reminder lists
- Color-coded folders
- Daily progress reports
- Reward systems
- Extended homework deadlines
The accommodations from IEP or 504 classes are not supplied as a special favor for children; they are provided to give those children with disabilities the same opportunity to learn and succeed as others without disabilities.
Spreading The Word
ADHD Awareness Month is celebrated in October every year, and some activities and events help all over the world. Whether you are a person with ADHD, have a child or loved one with ADHD, a mental health provider, or just someone who cares, you can do your part to help spread awareness of ADHD. Of course, it does not have to be October to help get the word out about the disorder; you can do it every day. Talk to people, let others know that ADHD is a real medical condition, and not a disciplinary problem.
You can also share vital information about ADHD at your job, grocery store, school, or daycare. Put up flyers that you download free online with facts about ADHD. You can get permission to post them anywhere or ask if you can just leave a flyer on a counter at the gas station or convenience store. Host a webinar or teleclass online to help others learn more or join a class about ADHD. Start a support group at your church or other organization you frequent. There are many things you can do to spread the word.
You Can Never Know Too Much
In addition to helping spread the word about ADHD awareness, you can volunteer to help children with ADHD and other disabilities. For example, you could be a teacher's aide or helper in an IEP class at your child's school or another elementary school. Learn more about ADHD so that you can help others learn about the disorder. Find out as much as you can by reading information from one of the reputable agencies such as the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), and the ADHD Organisation (ACO). Or you could go to the library and read the medical journals and other informational texts about ADHD. The more you learn, the easier it is to teach others.
Adults With ADHD
Learning more about ADHD and spreading awareness about the disorder is important so that children can get diagnosed early. Many adults with ADHD struggle their whole lives with keeping a job or a lasting relationship because they do not know about their ADHD, and they did not get treatment. Had they been diagnosed as a child; they may have led a much different life with treatment. It is highly treatable, and the sooner treatment starts, the better off you will be. As an adult with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD, you may struggle with concentration, memory, focus, impulse control, and may even have turned to alcohol or drugs to help cope with your issues. A simple case of ADHD that may have been treated years ago can turn into a full-blown addiction or even legal troubles.
Talk To A Professional
Have you always wondered why you cannot hold down a job or keep a meaningful relationship with anyone? Do you struggle to stay organized or remember important things? Have you always been fidgety or have to have something to keep your hands busy? These are all signs of adult ADHD that manifested from childhood. And when it goes untreated, it can cause other disabilities such as anxiety disorders, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If you had gotten treatment as a child, things might have been much better for you. However, it is never too late to get treatment. Whether you are 4 or 40, getting treatment for ADHD can turn your life around. Talk to a professional at BetterHelp today to get some help. You do not need an appointment. In fact, you do not even have to leave your house.
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