Sunday, March 10, 2013

The week in ADHD news

And it was an interesting one. First this post, from the NY Times, on a study that followed a number of children diagnosed with ADHD into adultood and found they were noticeably more likely to suffer from substance abuse, anxiety, depression or another psychiatric disorder as adults. Grim? Yes. But here's the point:

"William Barbaresi, who led the study, hopes that evidence of the children’s continued struggle as adults will help to fight the perception that A.D.H.D. is simply an overhyped childhood disorder and will encourage parents to seek the best possible treatment for affected children, and to keep treating them appropriately through adolescence."

The Mayo Clinic's own release on the study says it followed 5,718 children in Rochester, N.Y., from childhood to adulthood, which included 367 diagnosed with ADHD; 232 of them participated in the follow-up study and about three-quarters received ADHD treatment as children. The researchers found that 29 percent of children with ADHD still had it as adults, and 81 percent of them had at least one other disorder. Also, three of the ADHD kids they'd followed had committed suicide by the time the study began, and ten of them were in prison (or jail, it just says "incarcerated").

Dr. Barbaresi also tells

"I think we as a society continue to primarily think of ADHD as the obvious behaviors in young children. Our studies have shown that the majority of children and adults with ADHD have other problems that go with it. In childhood they include learning disabilities, which affect over 60 percent of children with ADHD. So these issues have to be identified and addressed along the way. Often that does not happen."
He also says:

"A combination of medication and other treatments for, for example, the learning and other mental health problems that often go with ADHD, is the way to go. Careful, regular follow-up is associated with signficant improvement associated with the most concerning outcomes -- in education, risk of substance abuse and reduced rates of emergency room visits."

And not precisely this week but close enough, there was this story in the Times, about a study of genetic data in 19 countries that found links among schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, depression and ADHD. This is, according to the people behind the study, the largest one ever done on psychiatric disorders. Other genetic or environmental factors seem to determine which disease people get (if any). But the study could offer new ways to treat such diseases. I'd link to the original study, which was published in the Lancet, but it's written in medicalese and not English.

So we're not making this stuff up about our kid, and it's not bad if he's on meds. Nyah.

He is, incidentally, continuing to show improvement on said meds. He went from getting three or four checks on his behavior chart (on a good day) to an entire week of eight or nine checks. His teacher says his behavior has improved. I should note that I promised him a Matchbox car every time he got six checks -- this was back when he never got six checks, and I was trying to motivate him. I gave him a car every day last week. Good thing the cars are a dollar at Shop-Rite.

We did meet with school officials last week about an IEP -- their feeling was that since his issues are behavioral and not academic, they could be adequately addressed with the 504 plan. Disappointed but not surprised. We did also use the meeting as a brainstorming session for ways to further help him, so that at least was useful. For instance, they suggested having him wear headphones on the bus so he can ignore distractions. (We're retrofitting an old iPhone for him.) And his occupational therapist said heavy work -- carrying things, moving things -- helps settle him, so they're trying to incorporate that into his day. We're meeting again in a month for the next follow-up.

At least I do feel we're on the right path here. And that's pretty important.

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