Research shows that as of 2011, 6.4 million of children aged 4-17, 11%, have been diagnosed with ADHD. You probably know someone with it: a classmate, coworker, or friend. You may even have it yourself. Attention Deficit Disorders in one way or another affect us all.
A Student’s Perspective
The 2016 issue of Connections featured Information Technology student Richie Ramierez who has ADHD. He related the following story: “[I was] playing with lighters in [my] mother’s study room, at age 11. The room, filled with teddy bear stuffing (the highly flammable kind) turned into a fire hazard. ‘My mother called me so I left the room with the lighter and the whole room caught on fire.’” Is is these types of experiences, though not always to this extreme, that ADHD and ADD can lead to.
Ritchie continued to struggle with the disorder throughout his time in school. He says that his first year at BYU was especially hard: “…I was put on probation because I failed a few classes. I felt stupid because testing at BYU is crazy challenging. I got so depressed big time so the doctors put me on meds.” He then went to the University Accessibility Center where he was diagnosed with ADHD. Upon their recommendation, Ritchie began to take Aderol.
However, this was short lived; after one semester of improved grades, the student began to experience anxiety. His grades dropped. This prompted Ritchie to stop taking the medication. After several months, he was issued a prescription for Citalopram, which he still takes to help with his hyperactivity and anxiety.
Ritchie’s story is just one of many; countless others struggle with Attention Deficit Disorders. BYU Psychology professor Rebecca Lundwall understands this and has a solution: “If we can identify significantly increased risk for a disorder via genetics, then we could do so at birth.” She proposes that by testing children for the disorder and others like it, we can alleviate, and in some cases, prevent it. For example, if you find that a child isn’t at the point where they can be diagnosed with anything but may reach that point sometime in their life, you can work with them then in order to prevent that. Dr. Lundwall says, “Diagnosis is often based on impaired functioning in school or home life. In many cases it would be best not to wait until the child qualifies for a diagnosis but to intervene before things get that bad.”
The professor is optimistic in terms of future research. She believes that within the next 10-20 years, we will have more knowledge so as to better treat those with the disorders: “Maybe my research will help treat the attentional symptoms of these disorders and, thereby, make these children’s lives better now and in the future and give their parents more hope and peace about the future.”
As for Ritchie, he has made peace with his diagnosis: “Everyone has a challenge. This one is mine.”
Do you know anyone with ADD or ADHD?
For more on Connections, check out: “New Insights Into Politics, Autism and ADD Diagnoses, Genealogy, and More: our Magazine”
For more on health, check out: “What are the Costs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?”