Acting out or ADHD: insight from a local pediatrician

It is a question a lot of parents ask when their young kids act out: does my child have a discipline problem?

The answer can be interwoven with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and early intervention makes a big difference in the child's classroom success.

Four-year-old Ben Drymon is a bright, energetic, soon to be pre-K student.  He is the first of two boys for registered nurse, Amy, who has some early concerns about her son's behavior.  "We are just feeling like he might be a little hyperactive," she said.

Dr. Albert Richert, Sr. with The Pediatric Center in Sulphur has seen the impact of ADHD on learning and behavior.  "The symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity," he said, "It's interesting and necessary to note that it does not contain a mood component."

Oftentimes disruptive behavior disorders can coexist with ADHD, causing aggression, anxiety and depression.  "Oppositional defiance, conduct disorder, behavior disorder," said Dr. Richert, "those are by far the most common comorbidities with ADHD."

Treatments can vary from behavior modifications to medication and even seeing a counselor, but that depends on the signs and symptoms the child is exhibiting and their age.  "The older they are, the more they're going to respond to the psychological aspect of the treatment," said Dr. Richert, "the younger they are, they more you're going to have to rely on pharmacologic treatment to get a good response."

Amy says she is not opposed to medication if the doctor says it is needed for Ben's concentration and behavior.  But right now, her priority is doing everything she can at home to set him up for success.  "I want him to be able to learn the best way that he can and if he has this problem being distracted, he's not going to learn as well as he can," said Amy.

Consistent discipline is the best way to keep your child that is acting out on course. Positive reinforcements should always follow good behaviors.

While hyperactivity will decrease as a child gets older, attention deficit disorders likely last a lifetime.

Copyright KPLC 2012.  All rights reserved.