ADHD and Hyperfocus: It's a Good Thing

ADHD children hyperfocusThe ability or tendency to hyperfocus is often a characteristic of ADHD.

Even though kids who have ADHD often have a lot of trouble paying attention at school, many of them can easily focus on something they're passionately interested in.

One little boy finally started to read when he was given a book on dinosaurs--his passion! He could focus on dinosaurs all day long.

Although the tendency to hyperfocus in ADHD kids is often considered a negative symptom, I disagree. It can mean the difference between success and failure!

Of course, hyperfocusing isn't always

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What Causes ADHD?

I've heard teachers say, "All the kids in my class have ADHD." Of course, that's not true but I'm sure it must seem like it.

And how many times have you said "Oh, I was just so ADHD today"? Or maybe you've said, "If my kids would just stop running around like they have ADHD"?

ADHD is a common term. Some of us, especially those with kids who aren't working up to their potential, use the term "ADHD" or "ADD" all the time.

Usually we mean that our kid is being hyperactive and can't pay attention. Or our child is dreamy and never seems to know what's going on.

In addition to how often we use the terms, it also seems like every expert (and lots of non-experts) has their pet theory of what causes ADHD.

A few of these theories that have been blamed for "causing" ADHD include

When It Isn't ADHD: Ryan's Story

Ryan and his dad had another argument tonight about math homework.

Dad's yelling at Ryan. Ryan's crying. And Mom's telling Dad to stop yelling at Ryan while trying to get Ryan to stop crying.

Ryan was pretty sure he had homework, but he wasn't sure what it was.

Ryan feels terrible. Not only has he made a mess again with his math homework but his parents are fighting. And it's all his fault.

This year Ryan is getting up out of his seat whenever he feels like it and disrupting other kids. So he's getting in trouble at home for that too.

Sometimes Ryan's Mom emails the teacher and gets Ryan's homework. But she can't do that everyday. And Ryan needs to be more responsible.

At Back-to-School night, Ryan's teacher suggests testing him for ADHD. She thinks maybe he needs to be on ADHD medication.

Dad, annoyed by the whole thing, starts asking more questions. He wants to know exactly what Ryan is doing and what Ryan isn't doing. Need to solve this homework problem and this behavior problem right now before this business with Ryan gets out of hand.

Then the clue! Ryan's teacher says,

Getting the ADHD Diagnosis Right: What to Say to Your Child’s Pediatrician

At least 63 common conditions can cause behavior that looks like ADHD. In other words, you or your child's teacher might think that your child has ADHD when in fact they have something else.

It’s easy to make the wrong diagnosis and well-meaning parents, teachers, even pediatricians are doing it everyday.

Misdiagnosing ADHD remains a serious problem because the wrong diagnosis often means a prescription for powerful stimulant drugs that your child doesn’t need.

If your child is taking a drug she doesn't need because of the wrong diagnosis, she could have side-effects, sometimes serious, to these drugs.

As a parent, when your child’s teacher says "I think Angela has ADHD," ask the teacher to describe Angela's specific behavior. Ask if Angela acts this way in other classes. Did she act this way in class last year.

Always keep in mind that teachers are not medical doctors or trained in psychology, much less psychiatry. They do not qualified to diagnosis ADHD, anymore than they are qualified to diagnose pneumonia, cancer, or brain tumors. That is not their job.

If the teacher says that he doesn't think Angela has problems in other classes and didn’t have a problem last year, then you know it’s a

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