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Combating ADHD Myths

Organization Guides Parents of Children With ADHD

Spend a little time on the Internet looking for information on ADHD, and you will come across a lot of material. Unfortunately, a significant amount of the available information is confusing, conflicting or just plain myth.

For parents trying to determine the best treatment for their child, this misinformation can have significant emotional and financial consequences. CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is an organization whose mission is to help people find reliable answers.

CHADD's unique mission is a reflection of its founders. In 1987, a small group of parents of children with ADHD in Plantation, Fla., were feeling very frustrated as they tried to get answers on how best to help their kids. In their search for better information and support, these parents teamed up with two psychologists who treated people with ADHD. The organization born of that partnership now has 20,000 members. Obviously, Plantation, Fla., wasn't the only part of the country lacking good ADHD resources.

Information, Information, Information

One of CHADD's most important roles is to serve as a clearinghouse for evidence-based science information about ADHD, says Clarke Ross, CEO of CHADD. In other words, if you are wondering whether a new treatment you have heard about might help your child, CHADD can help. They can tell you whether reputable researchers have completed scientific studies on the new treatment. While it's certainly possible your child may be helped by approaches that aren't scientifically proven, knowing what researchers and experts say is usually a good place to start.

CHADD plays in the big leagues as a provider of information. "On August 1, 2003, we started our second year as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded National Resource Center on ADHD," says Ross. This funding enables them to distribute quality information to a wide audience.

There is an excellent online starting point where you can join the crowd accessing CHADD's rich information resources:

CHADD's Web site, www.chadd.org, which averages 3.5 million hits a month, allows you to:

  • Sign up for ATTENTION! magazine;
  • Sign up for the News From CHADD e-newsletter;
  • Join monthly online Ask the Expert chat sessions;
  • Read informative fact sheets.

Evidence-Based Treatment

CHADD strongly believes that science points the way to the best and most effective treatments for ADHD. "Many families spend energy, money and time on non-evidence based interventions," says Ross. "The symptoms of ADHD continue."

Instead, CHADD recommends putting together a plan with your health care provider that begins with researched treatment guidelines and then is tailored to the unique needs of your child and family.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics has published evidence-based assessment and treatment guidelines for children with ADHD," says Ross. "If a treatment is not contained within the AAP guidelines and if your pediatrician does not recommend a treatment, then serious cautions must apply."

Beyond Information

CHADD's mission is not limited to providing information. They are also a well-respected support and advocacy organization. To provide local support for families and individuals with ADHD, CHADD has 235 chapters nationwide, all coordinated by volunteers. "The success of these local groups depends on the energy, skill, dedication and consistency of these parent-volunteer coordinators," says Ross.

If you're interested, CHADD is currently lacking chapters in Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont and many places in between. While many of these support groups are run by and for parents with children, CHADD chapters are beginning to host more support groups for adults with ADHD.

CHADD is also significantly involved in reaching out to African-American and Hispanic/Latino communities. "Cultural competence is an important goal in systems of care for children and their families," says Ross. "Each provider must show respect for and respond to individual differences and special needs."

In addition, CHADD is deeply involved in public policy issues. They belong to a list of organizations as long as your arm, all working to improve laws and policies that affect kids, families and adults impacted by ADHD. As part of their commitment to advocacy, CHADD just launched a national media campaign, the ADHD Education Initiative, aimed at clearing up confusion about ADHD in public conversations.

Few parents dealing with ADHD feel like they have enough information, and many wonder which answers they can trust. CHADD provides an excellent portal of resources and support that have a scientific seal of approval.

Teens With ADHD Drive Better With Right Medication

Daniel Cox, Ph.D., professor of psychiatric medicine at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, Va., is the parent of two children with ADHD. One is old enough to drive. Like most parents, Cox was probably disturbed by the thought of his teenager driving, especially with ADHD. Unlike most parents, Cox has the credentials to study how to make his kids safer on the roads.

Cox was the lead researcher on a recent study that looked at the effect of different medications on the driving performance of teens with ADHD. Researchers found that teens on a once-daily medication drove less erratically, ran fewer stop signs and drove better in the evenings. Teens on a three-times-a-day medication drove off the road more often and had more simulated high-speed collisions.

While this study was limited to just a few participants, it suggests that parents and health care professionals might want to keep in mind that ADHD medications can make teenage drivers better– or worse.

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