Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of  the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood.  It is sometimes referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder  (ADD).  It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood.  Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), and, in some cases, are overly active.

How do I know if my child has ADD/ADHD?

ADHD has many symptoms including inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity but there is no single test to diagnosis ADHD.   It can be hard to tell the difference between ADHD and normal childhood behaviors.

What is executive function?

“Executive Function” is a term used to describe a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with present action. We use executive function when we perform such activities as planning, organizing, strategizing and paying attention to and remembering details.  Knowing more about executive functions may give a deeper understanding of a child’s ADHD diagnosis.

What about school?

School can be difficult for children with ADD/ADHD.  A parent can request an evaluation for special education services if they think the disability is interfering with their child’s education.  In Michigan, students qualify for services under one of 13 eligibility labels, and ADD/ADHD is specifically mentioned under the label of Otherwise Health Impaired.

What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP?

Children with ADD/ADHD might need accommodations and modifications to be succeed in the classroom. There are specific accommodations to consider for students with ADD/ADHD.   Children with ADD/ADHD might also need a behavior plan to be successful at school.  Visit our webpage for more info in IEPs.   Also helpful:

Is there some technology that can help my child?

Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA.  Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities.  Check out the TechMatrix for suggestions for finding educational and assistive technology products for students with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.

What if the school says my child needs medication?

Schools can’t require ADHD drugs.  School personnel do not have the necessary medical training to tell parents to place their children on medication.  ADD/ADHD is a medical condition, and because some of the symptoms may be symptoms of other conditions, a physician needs to evaluate and suggest any course of treatment.

Where can I find support?

In Michigan, contact CHADD to find local support.  Other national support groups include:

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