How childhood trauma could be mistaken for ADHD

This article (link below) is a reblog from ACEs Too High.

“[Dr. Nicole Brown] was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive. Brown knew these behaviors as classic symptoms of ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus.

When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hypervigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.”

There has been a lot of talk of ADHD in the past few years, and a rise in this diagnosis. Researchers are now looking at why, and what other disorders, such as trauma, could be causing these symptoms.

“Though ADHD has been aggressively studied, few researchers have explored the overlap between its symptoms and the effects of chronic stress or experiencing trauma like maltreatment, abuse and violence. To test her hypothesis beyond Baltimore, Brown analyzed the results of a national survey about the health and well-being of more than 65,000 children.

Brown’s findings, which she presented in May at an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, revealed that children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. Those who endured four or more adverse childhood events where three times more likely to use ADHD medication.”

As an encouragement for parents and teachers, it is important to remember that doctors and therapists are still just humans and it is okay to challenge their diagnosis’. It is also good to be aware of symptoms to look for, for trauma. There is also the possibility, of course, that your child is acting they way they do simply because they are a child. Challenge and question, work with a doctor/therapist to figure out what needs your child has, instead of taking whatever they say as truth – though it may be truth, it is important for you to understand all the why’s of a diagnosis.

For doctors and therapists, it is important to figure out as detailed a patient/client background before diagnosing symptoms. It is important to remember that the parents/teachers are still the main caretakers of a child and they have a say in agreeing with a diagnosis or not, because they often see a child’s symptoms more often and need to be heard in what they are seeing happen, to better inform a diagnosis.

via How childhood trauma could be mistaken for ADHD.


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