School holds sessions on ADHD for parents

AIKEN --- Poor attention in class, restlessness and impulsiveness might describe a "problem child." Or it could describe a child with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Several North Augusta schools have begun taking a proactive approach by offering sessions for parents on the signs of ADHD.

"This is just one of the topics that we've picked as a service that we offer to our parents," said Jean Taylor, a North Augusta Elementary School guidance counselor. "The feedback I got was tremendous."

The sessions weren't just for parents with children of ADHD, Mrs. Taylor said, but also for parents who wanted to know more about the disorder to see whether it was a concern for their child.

Opening lines of communication on ADHD isn't a new trend, said Dr. Alex Mabe, a clinical psychologist at Medical College of Georgia.

"Most schools now are briefing their teachers and administrators on the problems and warning signs," Dr. Mabe said. "They are not trained to make a diagnosis or referral, but a teacher's observations are extremely important. A lot of the problems are in the school environment and may not be seen at home."

Between 3 percent and 7 percent of children have ADHD, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Although information about attention-deficit disorders has become more prevalent in the media and among parents, Dr. Mabe said many children still slip through the cracks -- which is where schools can help by informing parents of warning signs.

"I think that probably half the children with ADD are not being treated or not getting adequate treatment," he said.

When speaking with parents, Dr. Mabe tries to keep sessions from turning into therapy time for those dealing with ADHD at home.

Instead, sessions seek to dispel myths about the disorder and help parents better understand how a team approach can help a child thrive in school and social settings.

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106 or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.

ATTENTION-DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER

WHAT IS IT? A neurobehavioral condition with symptoms that include excessive restlessness, poor attention and impulsive acts

WHO HAS IT? Between 3 percent and 7 percent of school-age children and about 4 percent of adults have ADHD. Seventy-six percent of children with ADHD have a relative with the condition, but no cause for ADHD has been found.

WHAT ARE CONSEQUENCES OF UNTREATED ADHD?

- Increased risk for school failure and dropout

- Behavior and discipline problems

- Social difficulties and family strife

- Accidental injury - Alcohol and drug abuse - Depression and other mental health disorders - Employment problems - Driving accidents - Unplanned pregnancy - Delinquency, criminality and arrest Source: Parents Medication Guide prepared by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association