Psychological Services

The “Real ADD” Through the Academic Years

Preschool Years:

Problems sufficient to identify children during preschool years tend to be the result of either a total dislike of school or more often, the presence of an additional neurological disorder to result in the “Hyperactive” child. The child who runs around the room, grabs things out of the hands of others and fails to respond to adult requests (despite numerous reminders) is more likely to be reacting to an additional neurological disorder involving sleep and/or injury to the brain. Generally speaking, children are identified in preschool primarily as a result of behavioral issues and secondarily due to concerns regarding language development.

Elementary School Years:

In the first and second grades the building blocks of learning are being taught. These are critical learning years and when concepts are missed due to attention deficits, the problem becomes more apparent later when there is a lack of understanding of for instance a math concept. These initial years are when the teaching of phonetics becomes difficult for the ADD child and they either begin to memorize their words or avoid reading. Writing tends to follow the same direction. Difficulty with handwriting, slanted or uneven letters, can provide telltale signs of a genetic attention disorder being compensated for, simultaneously accompanied by the demise of spatial development. When the teacher stops holding the child’s hand so to speak, in the third grade and independent work begins, homework begins and the problem of missing assignments begins to appear.

Junior High:

The huge leap from elementary school is an enhanced third grade transition independent work situation. The student is now required to write; papers, they have difficulty knowing where to start and avoidance and procrastination results in non-completion or late work. Fear of performance failure only enhances the avoidance resulting in increased missing assignments or assignments painstakingly completed at home but are never turned in. The assignment book is invariably missing a homework task that was not copied from the whiteboard, the child reports no knowledge of a test scheduled weeks prior, and books are not opened at home or at school and become mysteriously lost. Anxiety exacerbates and depression deepens, revealed outwardly in anger or sadness. Parents feel that their child has become a stranger.

High School:

The worse junior high is, the more likely that high school will be a continuation, eventually carrying the risk of dropping out of school or delinquency, sexual acting out or drug abuse. This is the time that intervention if not undertaken prior is absolutely critical to prevent the child from the development of detrimental patterns or habits that cannot be changed and will negatively affect their adult lives. At this time, apathy, lack of motivation, and dislike of school fuel family arguments and teenage acting out behavior carrying dire consequences and taking years to resolve. Decisions of the future are negatively affected by beliefs of academic prowess. Life patterns of success versus failure, development of self-esteem, identification of life goals and values all become major issues at this point.

College:

This used to be the time that ADD symptoms naturally abated as the person discovered their abilities, their interest area and began to devote themselves to academic study. They were allowed however, the freshman year to make mistakes, almost flunk out due to not studying and learn the hard way that they needed to buckle down and get serious as the consequences were now going to affect them as opposed to their parents. The current very competitive atmosphere at schools with higher enrollments, make that freshman year allowance a thing of the past. Probationary status has turned into suspension. A second chance is not given. There is no time to wander around taking difficult classes until landing at the career that fits due to expense and increased competition. Getting into college requires two years of planning during the high school years. High school years not taken seriously can prevent entrance into college.

Suggestions: ADD Through the Academic Years

If you see suspect ADD, diagnose early through neuropsychological testing and take action; don’t wait until problems have escalated to in school or your child becomes emotionally out of control.
Rejoice in the fact that there finally is a method to treat the problems related to ADD that have been resistant to any long term treatment in the past.