ADHD on the Rise in Hispanics

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POSTED: Friday, February 24, 2012 - 11:39am

UPDATED: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 9:21am

Is it a kid being a kid? Or is it something more? A child may be easily distracted, has trouble staying on task, and even talks out of turn, things that just about every kid experiences at one time or another, but these are also just a few signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. So when does this behavior cross over from being a normal kid to being a child that's suffering from a neurological disorder?

“Parents come in under a tremendous amount of pressure; it's not unusual for the parent to say, "The teacher can't take it anymore," says pediatrician, Dr. Carmen Rocco.

The Center for Disease Control reports that over five million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. To put that into perspective, that's about one in every ten school aged children; kids between the ages of four and seventeen.

"It's a neurological deficit. It's an area of the brain that is impacted. It's not able to function correctly, so it's like that area of the brain, from my understanding, shuts down," says BISD Special Services School Psychology Specialist, Cyndi Trevino.

This impairment prevents a child from paying attention, causes him or her to be hyperactive, and very impulsive.

Here’s a list of some of the common characteristics of a child suffering from ADHD, this list is directly from the Center for Disease Control:
-daydreaming
-trouble listening
-easily distracted
-forgets things
-constantly moving
-squirms and fidgets
-talks too much
-does not play quietly
-acts and speaks without thinking
-has trouble taking turns
-interrupts others

Cyndi Trevino, who works for BISD Special Services, accesses children who are referred to her, by either parents or teachers, for these characteristics.

“This is something that is within the brain, it's neurological, it will never go away. It will be with this child all the way through adulthood. The responsibility placed on the child's shoulders, the parents shoulders and on the teachers shoulders is how we can help the child learn to compensate and be successful," says Trevino.

While Trevino does not diagnose, she simply helps in making recommendations on whether a child could benefit from further services or what changes can be made in the classroom and even at home to provide structure for the child.

The diagnosis comes from a psychologist or a pediatrician, but a proper diagnosis takes time. Dr. Rocco says several factors need to be met to truly diagnose a child with ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics clearly states which factors must be present. For one, a child must exhibit ADHD characteristics before the age of seven and two, the behavior must be present in multiple settings, not just the classroom. She says in many cases, parents and or teachers are quick to think a kid needs to be medicated.

"I always feel like we need to give a child a full benefit, they deserve that and so I often tell parents, "Don't be disappointed, but you're a not going to walk out of here with medication today. I can give you a letter that outlines what our plans are going to be, but we're not going to give a medication until we're certain that this is going to help your child," says Dr. Rocco.

She adds if a child is accurately diagnosed, medication in combination with counseling is necessary. Ultimately a child needs to learn coping skills so they can grow into productive adults.

Unfortunately, Dr. Rocco says that mental health services are limited in the valley, which can be particularly concerning, especially since the number of Hispanic children diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise.

But there is help; it may just take a little longer to get it. Dr. Rocco says on average, getting into see this type of mental health professional may take four to six weeks, but she leaves parents with this message of motivation....

"There is no reason why a child with ADHD will not come out a very successful adult. We've seen it. It takes, like everything else in childhood, a village, the school, the parents, the community to understand them and help them along the way."

For more information on ADHD and resources click on the link below:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/

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