When you receive an ADHD diagnosis, it is important that you immediately formulate a roadmap of steps in order to minimize the impact of the condition on you or your child’s functioning.
Truth be told, diagnoses like ADHD – by themselves – are not that helpful. Why? Because clinical phenomena like ADHD manifest uniquely in each person; they are experienced, expressed, and coped with by each person differently.
Also, too many people run to medication rather than making themselves aware of all of the Evidence Based Treatments for ADHD. The evidence-based components of cutting-edge treatment in my opinion may include the following:
— Hyper organization of physical environment
— Cognitive behavioral therapy to minimize inattentive or distractive thought processes
— Visually based time management calendars
— Customization of approaches to learning including shorter work sessions
— Maximization of audible reminders for appointments
— Educationally or employment related appropriate accommodations, including preferential seating, extended time to complete tasks, and other accommodations, as needed (these are often critical if the person is a student who will be taking a standardized test like the SAT or GRE)
— Neuro rehabilitative cognitive “games” (such as Cogmed). This approach exploits the dramatic power of leveraging neuroplasticity (Google scholar this term for more details); the reality that if you push the brain to do things it is not good at, such as focusing, then your brain “accommodates” to this work by fundamentally improving its wiring. See my blog about the daughter of a psychiatrist who used this technique. There is significant data to indicate this approach is as powerful as medication in some ways.
— Medication should be considered, especially for more severe forms of ADHD. If it is used, you must use a medication diary to precisely track the effectiveness of the medication. Medication Diary.
PARENT OR STUDENT NOTE: If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, one of the very best online resources to learn more about ADHD and/or medications that are considered is at CHADD.org
A diagnosis of ADHD does not mean you or your child will necessarily be limited from being able to reach your dreams. Thousands of very high functioning, successful, and/or high-performance students/professionals/athletes have ADHD.
What differentiates those who go on to perform at high levels versus those who go on to deteriorate further is how comprehensively that person attacks the ADHD condition.
Don’t just use medication, as then you are using medication as a crutch. Medication does not cure ADHD, but it does muffle the symptoms and change your biochemistry very temporarily. While nothing cures ADHD that we know of to date, the neural rehabilitative technique called Cogmed is the most cutting-edge technology available that goes to the ROOT of what is causing the problem with focusing.
Unfortunately, one of the most common errors is for someone to simply take medication without making numerous other adjustments that scientific studies indicate should be taken.
After having assessed ADHD for over 12 years, I have come to find that quite often people are misdiagnosed with ADHD whereas they actually have fundamental problems with more subtle issues such as any of the following: anxiety, sensory problems, Autism, are bored and under-stimulated, are playing video games too often, have been abused and have PTSD, AND/OR have learning disabilities that were never identified. Read my blog for further information about why people get misdiagnosed with ADHD.
PARTING NOTE: Before you proceed down a path of spending thousands of dollars on treatment of the diagnosed ADHD, you might read my blog discussing the leading reasons why you might be misdiagnosed:
The top reasons you or your child might be misdiagnosed with ADHD
Other ADHD related blogs:
Research update on leading non-medication based approach to ADHD
Priceless Brief TED Talk: How Schools Kill Creativity and How We Can Re-imagine School
What is the most powerful non-medication based way to improve ADHD and/or focusing problems?
The 3 most common student problems schools and parents overlook that Precise Evaluation corrects