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Glasses for the Brain: Helping Children Understand ADHD tells the story of John, a boy who goes through the process of being diagnosed with AD/HD, learning about this condition, its treatments, and the role of medication. Removing the stigma of AD/HD is emphasized, along with John's uniqueness as an individual.


Diagnosing ADD and AD/HD

ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is a neurological condition that is characterized by the the following symptoms.

 Inattention is the inability to concentrate on the task at hand.

 Impulsivity is the tendency to respond quickly without thinking through the consequences of an action.

 Hyperactivity occurs in some cases; refers to a behavior that has a constant, driving motor activity where the student races from one activity to another. Persons with this additional characteristic are classified AD/HD.

ADD and AD/HD are classifications used by the Department of Education, school systems, and the mental health community.

Most teens can be found to have short attention spans. They are easily distracted, and if compared to adults, they certainly make what seems to be impulsive decisions.

These characteristics alone do not characterize ADD or AD/HD behavior.

There needs to be observations of consistent behavior. Typically parents, teachers, and the diagnosing professional all observe and document behaviors.

Research has shown that ADD and AD/HD are equally prevalent in boys and girls, although boys are more likely to be identified.

Students can have co-occurring conditions that must be considered in the treatment plan: other learning disabilities, social disorders, as well as qualifying as gifted/talented.


Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities

Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities

Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)

Difficulty organizing tasks and activities

Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)

Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)

Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

Forgetful in daily activities


Blurts out answers before questions are completed

Has difficulty waiting in line or awaiting turn in games or activities

Interrupts or intrudes on others

Poor self-control

Interupt others

Invade other people's space

Censor themselves less than others

Touch or plays with whatever is in sight

Internally restless and easily frustrated

May react to stress or stimuli more intensly

Need to stay constantly busy and do several things at once

Ask irrelevant or questions

Display emotions without restraint

Can be moody and overreact behaviorally or emotional which may be viewed as defiance or disrespect


Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected

Runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)

Difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly

Is "on the go" or often act as if "driven by a motor"

Talks excessivel

Does several things at once

Bounces from one activity to the next

When forced to sit still may tap their foot, drum their fingers,shake their legs

Moves around constantly, often running or climbing innapropriately

May have a hard time engaging with others socially because of high energy

Here are some things parents can do:

ADD and AD/HD can be challenging and exhausting to deal with as a parent. Your patience may be tested by episodes of defiance and outbursts. Calls from school and constant redirection can challenge any parent.

It is important to keep things in perspective and remember ADD and AD/HD are not intentional acts of defiance, but rather a neurological condition. Often the ADD teen will want to behave and thrive, but is struggling with his or her impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention.

The gap between the desire to fit in and succeed, and the limits that this condition present often can cause emotional conflict and sometimes learned helplessness.

Teaming up with positive support and guidance found from school personnel, family, and mentalhealth professionals can help guide and encourage more appropriate behavior and coping skills.

The best approach to dealing with ADD or AD/HD is multimodal. Addressing the condition with behavior modification, family counseling, parent training, accommodations, and special education services can be important.

Medication is often a way of dealing with the problems created by ADD and AD/HD, however medication alone is not the best .

Teens must work on coping techniques that will help them through moments of impulsivity and distractibility.

Redirect negative behavior to more positive outlets. Extracurricular activities and sports can provide healthy outlets for energy.

Remember your teen’s symptoms are not intentional, so it is important to look for positive attributes. Focus on their endless energy or their ability to “multi-task”.

Attempt to engage your teen socially, as they may have difficulties engaging appropriately with others.

Know your breaking point as a parent. Leave, take a break, and then come back to communicate later. Get back-up from your spouse or other family members.

Teach, role-model, set limits, and use your words to identify possible feelings under the behavior to help your teen learn other ways to express themselves. “Chunk down” tasks into smaller ones with frequent breaks.

Positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior is important. Allow your teen room to improve by not making consequences too severe. Enable them to overcome obstacles to create personal success.

AD/HD Myths & Truths

Psychological Consultants and Affiliates, Inc.

60 Messimer Drive, Newark, Ohio  43055

Phone 740-522-2230, 800-522-2457

Fax 740-522-6230


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