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Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD

There are a number of conditions that look a lot like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but are not ADHD. Here are some of these conditions that look like ADHD, but are not:

Bipolar Disorder (Early Onset Bipolar Disorder)
Tourette’s Syndrome
Childhood Depression
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)
Auditory Processing Disorder
Autism or Aspergers
Schizophrenia or Other Psychotic Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Child Abuse or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome or Exposure to Drugs in utero
Thyroid Problems
Mild Mental Retardation
Drug Abuse
Mercury Poisoning, Heavy Metal Toxicity
Head Injuries or Brain Trauma
Food Allergies
Environmental Allergies
The above conditions can mimic ADHD. “Differential Diagnoses” must be considered first before diagnosing ADHD.
The physician will observe the patient’s symptoms and take the patient’s personal and family history.
After listing the most likely causes the physician asks questions and performs tests to eliminate possibilities until he or she is satisfied that the single most likely cause has been identified.
Once a working diagnosis is reached, the physician prescribes a therapy. If the patient’s condition does not improve, the diagnosis must be reassessed.

There are many medications for ADD/ADHD.
Stimulant Medications are Ritalin, Dexedrine, Concerta, and ADDerall.
Non-Stimulants for ADHD are Strattera.

Personally I had a hard time with my son, with impulsivity and concentration, etc. but it breaks my heart to give him Ritalin. I’m not saying that Ritalin is bad, I just don’t give it to my son. He had severe stomach cramps, headaches and a loss of appetite. He also didn’t seem to be my son when he took Ritalin. He would just sit there and watch the other children play. He wouldn’t even have a snack. After about pill number five, I put his pill on the table beside a glass of water and he begged me not to make him take it. He described how he felt and I witnessed what it did to him, so we decided that Ritalin was not a good treatment.
On the other hand there is a young student I know who takes Concerta and it works fine for him. So parents should try the treatment that is most effective for their child. Every child is different and will respond differently as an individual.
There are also alterntive medicines that contain amino acid combinations and essential Fatty Acids which I very much am in favour of.

Family Therapy and Counselling
The family needs to adjust to the ADHD child, and know how to adjust to him. The focus of family therapy ought to be the siblings. There is sometimes a bit of jealousy because ADHD child probably gets away with a lot more than his non-ADHD siblings do. I hear all sorts of things, that I favour my son, blah, blah, blah. At first those comments hurt, but I am my son’s mother and I know how difficult it is for him to control his impulsivity and talking out of turn, etc.
As a mother it is difficult to please everyone let alone your kids. When there’s complaints from your family, the school, the neighbours… it’s tough for the parents. Mum can’t always be super-mum, that’s why family therapy and support from your family and friends is so important. This helps the ADHD child feel accepted and loved and so that the other children don’t feel neglected.

I feel family therapy is better than months and months of individual therapy. Why I say this is because instead of just working on self esteem alone (which individual therapy offers), working together as a family teaches SELF CONTROL and respect to others. My son knows how much he is loved but he also needs to know that when he can’t wait his turn while playing a game, he hurts others feelings by doing that. When he impulsively talks while his teacher is explaining a lesson, that is rude and showing disregard for rules. And there are so many great stories of akhlaaq of our Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and of the Companions (Sahaabah radiyallahu anhum) that can help in this regard.
The better children with ADHD become with skills that we take for granted like being polite and waiting your turn, working fast and hard until you are finished, how to pay attention to the right thing, how to follow rules, and how to obey your parents, teachers and elders, the more successful they will become in society, the more self esteem they will achieve from this.

Insha’allah we will discuss diet of ADHD children soon as I believe it is an important part of health and treatment of ADHD.

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