LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If you have trouble paying attention at home or work or you have a child that is falling behind in the classroom because of the inability to focus - it could be a sign of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Left untreated, the consequences could be serious.
Even at five years of age, David Aguillard knew that he was having problems in his kindergarten class. "I wasn't listening to the teacher," he said.
When David's principal called his mother, Corrin, about his behavior - she was told that it seemed like more than a kid acting out. "He was not listening," said Corrin, "a lot of fidgeting, getting out of his seat, playing on the rug, not doing what he's told."
It was recommended that Corrin have her son tested for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, which Dr. Earl Soileau with Memorial's Family Medicine Residency Program says affects about eight percent of school-age children.
"The main and essential feature is that they have difficulty with attention, memory organization and perseverance in tasks," said Dr. Soileau.
On top inattentiveness, children with ADHD are oftentimes overactive and impulsive because of a reduction in dopamine - an important neurotransmitter in the nervous system. "The regulatory systems are not turned on in the brain," explained Dr. Soileau.
While behavior and lifestyle modifications are the first tools in treating ADHD, medication might also have to play a role. This is something that Corrin was very leery of, but now sees the transformation it has made in David.
"It's such a better way of life for him;" said Corrin, "he's so much happier to get up to go to school."
David even recognizes the difference his daily medication makes in his routine. "I do want to take it," he said, "because it helps me."
Fortunately, for David, this early intervention is setting him on the right path to live productively with the diagnosis. That's why Dr. Soileau says it is important for parents to have their children evaluated at the first signs of a problem.
"If they're not treated," said Dr. Soileau, "they're at a much higher risk for all of the pitfalls of teenagers: drug use, early pregnancy, STDs, poor school performance, poor educational outcomes in general."
Until recently, it was also believed that children will grow out of ADHD, but research now shows roughly 60 percent will carry some symptoms over to adulthood.
*For more information on attention deficit disorders, tune in to Memorial Health e-Radio Wednesday, January 27th at 1:00 p.m. Click here for a link to the broadcast.