“My grade in this class is slipping. I need to listen to the teacher. I need to focus,” the student thought as she once again lost track of the lesson and her thoughts drifted.
Her teachers seemed to drone on and their voices became a hum. As she rifled through her backpack, everything was disheveled.
“I thought that I put that paper in my backpack. Where is it?” Frustration started to strike as she has once again misplaced papers and forgotten to put important things back in her backpack. This high school student may be showing signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder without the hyperactivity, more commonly known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
According to Web MD, ADHD is “a developmental and behavioral disorder that is characterized by inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsively that is inappropriate for a person’s age level.”
ADD is the same definition but without the hyperactivity. Some typical symptoms of ADD are difficulty staying focused on one task and rarely paying attention to details, making careless mistakes especially in school, switching from one activity to another often, sometimes without completing the first task, and work habits that are disorganized.
How ADD is caused is unknown, though experts have found there are definite genetic links.
Impulsive behavior is a characteristic of ADD which according to Web MD can lead to some risky behavior. “People with ADHD tend to be more impulsive and likely to have behavior problems both of which can contribute to drug and alcohol abuse,” researchers say.
Drug and alcohol problems typically start at an earlier age if one suffers from ADD compared to people with out ADD.
When being diagnosed there is not a specific test used. Although there have been standard guidelines made by the American Academy of Pediatrics that can help.
Once diagnosed, there are treatments to help with ADD. Medication is now widely used as a treatment. This is not a cure but causes the person to function better. There are multiple medications to treat ADHD and ADD. Two different types of ADHD and ADD medication are available, stimulants and non stimulants.
According to Web MD stimulants are the most common way of treat ADHD and ADD in adolescents. Non stimulants are also used in adolescents but are found to be most effective in elementary school children according to Web MD. Non stimulants are sometimes used on adolescents who have a history of drug use. Some commonly used medications are Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin and Strattera.
If a person does not want to take medication, there are some alternatives. “There are behavior modification plans during which we can develop coping skills. The students needs to be proactive about time management. For some students simple stress balls work or white noise. Electronic reminders also help the student,” Director of academic resource source at Whitman College Juli Dunn said.
Staying organized is the main challenge when it comes to ADD. With today’s technology there are many ways to. “If you type in ADD on an iTunes app store, hundreds of apps come up,” Dunn said.
There are also simpler ways to stay organized that any student can access. “Many AVID strategies for staying organized work well for students with ADD. Using your student planner daily is very helpful. Also writing down reminders and keeping an organized binder is important,” school psychologist Alicia Quackenbush said.
Some students with ADD can also qualify for a 504 plan. “A 504 plan offers students with disabilities accommodations in their classes. Common accommodations are more time on assignments and tests and specialized seating,” Quackenbush said.
Talk with a parent, doctor, school counselor or school nurse if any symptoms of ADHD or ADD present themselves.