Your child’s health: ADHD

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CLEVELAND - Stacey Allen works with her son Isaiah as he studies for his spelling test.   She says doing his homework is a lot better than it used to be for her first grader, who has had some troubles at school. “With Isaiah -- a little bit after he started kindergarten, we started noticing some troubles staying focused in class, being able to work well with his peers, and not really able to sit still and really focus on the task at hand,"  Allen said.

Then things got worse for her 7-year-old and his grades started slipping, Allen turned to his pediatrician.  Dr. Laura Caserta diagnosed Isaiah with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  She said ADHD can affect about 10% of children. "Some of the inattentive symptoms would be like daydreaming a lot, having a hard time focusing on the task they have to do at school. So those would more of the inattentive symptoms. Hyperactivity symptoms would be like fidgety, kind of getting out of their seat when they're not supposed to and not being able to sit still for very long," Dr. Caserta said.

The behavioral changes are seen both at home and at school and continue for more than six months. “If they do meet all that criteria and don't have any medical diagnosis, than that's when we would start treatment for ADHD,” Dr. Caserta added.

Allen found positive reinforcement measures help with Isaiah.  His good behaviors are documented on his calendar.  And, good days are rewarded with something from the praise box.  “For me it means, it’s a lot of toys in it.  It’s a box.  So, green two days, you get to get something out of the box,” Isaiah said.

And his parents have found that medication has made a world of difference for Isaiah. “It's a total difference, like day and night. He’s more calm. He's more focused,” Isaiah’s dad Terrance Allen said.   And, Dr. Caserta agreed. "I’ve had lots of patients just with a little bit of medication do so much better in school and it helps their whole quality of life,” she said.

Doctor Caserta added ADHD is seen more in boys than girls. Girls tend to be more inattentive and boys tend to be more hyperactive.

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