Paying Attention To Deficit Disorders

October 07, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

After dealing with the frustrations parents say is common among children with attention deficit disorder, Cynthia Hart decided to do something about it.

Mrs. Hart, whose 10-year-old son has the disorder, called the national headquarters of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) to ask about forming a support group in the Pasadena area for parents such as herself.

Mrs. Hart expected about 50 people to attend the group's first meeting last night at the Gibson Island Country School.

"I think a lot of parents are frustrated because they don't have anyone to turn to," Mrs. Hart said, adding that parents sometimes do not find support within their own families. "The families feel like they're just not disciplining the children right," Mrs. Hart said.

Attention deficit disorder is a neurological condition in which the neuron transmitters in the brain malfunction. The result can be a short attention span, and sometimes impulsive behavior or hyperactivity.

fTC The condition first was identified in 1957 as hyperkinetic impulse disorder, and usually only those who were hyperactive were identified as having it, said Carolyn Keenen, guidance counselor for the Lake Shore and Fort Smallwood elementary schools, a scheduled speaker at last night's meeting.

But in 1980, the name was changed to attention deficit disorder. Patients were identified as a predominantly inattentive type, a predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type, or a combined type.

The cause of the disorder is unknown. Mrs. Keenen said it could be due to genetic, neurological, neurochemical, dietary or toxic factors.

Symptoms include constant fidgeting with hands or feet, difficulty remaining seated, easily distracted, or difficulty following through on instructions -- not necessarily because the child does not understand. Others include excessive talking, not seeming to listen, or a tendency to lose things needed to complete tasks.

Mrs. Keenen said children with attention deficit disorder do not have problems concentrating on things they are interested in -- but those things tend to be fast-paced entertainment such as television.

CHADD groups aim to support parents and adults with ADD, provide a forum for continuing education, act as a community resource for information about the problem, and to make the best educational experiences available to children affected by it.

According to the national CHADD organization in Florida, about 3.5 million children and between 3 and 5 million adults in the United States have the disorder.

The Pasadena group will meet the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Gibson Island Country School multi-purpose room. For more information, call Cynthia Hart at 360-1431.

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