The Rise of ADD (ADHD) in our Society

Welcome to our Stepping Stones Pediatric Therapy blog where we desire to offer help to families and therapists alike.  As an agency, we commit to bringing the developmental community together as a whole and building strong networks that encourage, support and assist those living with developmental disabilities.

One area that seems to get a bad reputation is in the diagnosis and “label” of individuals with ADD/ADHD, especially as it appears more and more of our students are gaining this diagnosis.   I became much closer with a heightened awareness to this diagnosis when my daughter was diagnosed at the end of her fifth grade year in elementary school.  For years, I watched her struggle with reading and math, two areas that often will give a child a false sense that they aren’t as smart as their classmates.  This is especially true when they begin separating students into groups according to their standardized test scores.

Often, children with ADD go undiagnosed.  This was the case with my daughter. They fall through the cracks because school systems are not willing to pay for the testing it takes to really tease out the diagnosis.  This means you often need to seek out a specialist for this testing.  If you are already seeing a developmental pediatrician, they can often recommend a place for further ADD testing.  I had to ask around in the psychology world, and was lucky to find a child psychologist that specialized in this diagnosing learning disabilities in Denver CO.

For my daughter, her brain’s filing system was experiencing a disconnect so that she couldn’t store information and then retrieve it later to connect it with similar or new information.  Therefore, in essence, she was having to relearn everything over and over again.  As they say, knowing this learning “difference” is half the battle.  The supports that we could help her with are the second half of the battle.  We began supporting her in many ways that otherwise she would not have accessed.  She was allowed to reference a multiplication table while completing math tests, she was given more time to complete tests and could test in quieter small groups, she was able to chunk down larger assignments with the assist of her teachers and was given more guidance on how to complete each step, she was given the audio version to listen to her text books, and she was given an assigned counselor time at the end of the day that would go through her homework checklist with her and make sure she has the needed books and resources before leaving the school each day.  These were just a few of the supports that she was given, but she was also encouraged throughout use of these resources to be an advocate for herself.  In this way, we helped to train her to create habits that would help support her learning in the future.

This is a great example of how our children, when given the right “scaffolding” to support them, can succeed in so many areas of their lives, not just in school.  My daughter learned that she wasn’t less smart, rather she just learned differently than most students because her brain works differently in the storing of knowledge.  She needed a better brain networking system that would help her retain and make sense of previously learned materials.

There are so many different typologies of ADD as I am still learning.  Some individuals are hyper-focused, some are hyperactive, some are inattentive, etc… The best resource I found while starting to learn more was Russell Barkley’s book: Taking Charge of ADHD.  I also really like using the book: Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare for practical helps and strategies, especially with Executive Functioning.  I use both of these resources as well in my work as an Occupational Therapist while supporting clients and families and other therapists in how to scaffold their students that may be struggling and may even still be undiagnosed.  Both of these resources, along with many others, can typically be checked out from your local library.  I have also become very fond of the resources offered by “ADDitude Magazine” both through their free webinars, and library of past webinars and their wonderful magazine postings and website.  You can find out more here:

As many parents and therapists already know, we must be advocates for these students that are struggling to keep up and stay organized.  The higher level executive functioning of students is an area where Occupational, Speech and Physical therapists can be supporting their clients and families and advocate for testing when it appears needed.  This has transformed our approach with my daughter and how we support her learning.  We began seeing success after success propel her desire to put more focus, time and effort into her school work and she began to like learning more.

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