In the United States, 5.4 million children between 4 and 17 years of age have ever been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A childhood disorder, ADHD is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Most children have combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive ADHD, in which they have six or more inattention symptoms and six or more hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, noted the National Institute of Mental Health.
Mothers play a large role in the management of their child’s ADHD. Their views were the subject of a new survey conducted by Mom Central Consulting and Noven Therapeutics, LLC.
Called “Kids and ADHD: Assessing Where Moms Stand on Treatment,” it was conducted in August 2012 and included 1,011 moms who had children between 6 and 17 years of age who had ADHD and were being treated with medication.
They found that 78 percent of the mothers surveyed feel empowered since their child began treatment with any ADHD medication.
Dr. Patricia Quinn, a developmental pediatrician, co-founder and director of the Center for Girls and Women with ADHD in Washington, D.C., and former clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical Center, talked to EmpowHER about the survey results and gave advice for mothers of children with ADHD.
About half of the mothers surveyed have had difficulty maintaining their child’s treatment schedule. What tips can you give to mothers for managing their child’s treatment schedule?
As ADHD is a genetically-inherited disorder in the majority of cases, I have found that many mothers have difficulty maintaining a treatment schedule for their child because of their own ADHD symptoms. Forgetfulness and distractibility may impair their ability to be consistent with their child's medication schedule.
Therefore, my first recommendation is to make sure that these mothers are adequately treating their own ADHD. Next, it is important that a mother work with her child's treating physician to assure that the child is on the most effective long-acting medication available. Treatment that includes multiple daily dosing may be difficult to maintain.
Lastly, I recommend that mothers foster personal responsibility and independence in their child when it comes to taking medication. This can be managed by using charts and medication dispensers that can be checked off by the child when he or she has taken the medication.
This can also help to avoid problems in remembering if the medication has even been taken, a common occurrence given most family's busy morning routines. Older children can also be encouraged to make note on the chart and even call for refills when their prescriptions need to be refilled. This avoids last-minute refills or even running out of medication that can disrupt continuity of treatment.
What were the mothers’ attitudes on the survey toward ADHD medications and their effectiveness as a treatment for their child?
Nine out of 10 mothers that took part in the survey felt that they had done the right thing by treating their child's ADHD with medication and had seen improvement in their child's behavior at home and at school as a result of medication. They preferred a longer-acting medication to effective manage symptoms on school days but felt that they would like an option for a shorter duration of treatment as schedules changed on weekends or holidays.
How can mothers become more informed about ADHD treatments for their child?
Mothers need to remain good consumers. They can become better informed by asking questions of their child's prescribing physician regarding the options for various medications available (long-acting versus shorter-acting; patch versus pill; liquid versus sprinkle, etc.) based on their child's needs.
They also should discuss and potential side effects and ways that they can be minimized even before the treatment starts. The fewer surprises the better! Mothers should feel comfortable asking a physician why he or she has chosen a certain medication and what they can expect regarding symptom reduction.
In addition, they should seek out other parents who have used the same medication with their child and join support groups like CHADD, the national non-profit organization for children and adults with ADHD where these issues are discussed. Most medications also have websites sponsored by the manufactures that provide information about medication safety and effectiveness.
Lastly, there are many books now available by experts who have been treating and conducting research on ADHD for many years.
As a developmental pediatrician and mother who has children with ADHD, what advice do you have for mothers?
The most important advice I can give is that mothers should help their children understand that ADHD is only a part of who they are. We ALL have strengths and weaknesses and nobody is perfect.
Enjoy and appreciate your children as individuals and help them feel that they are capable and loved, no matter what! Laugh and have fun together despite the foibles and trails that go along with everyday living with ADHD. No doubt you will have some difficult moments, but the good times will make them less painful for everybody.
Interview with Dr. Patricia Quinn. Email. 23 October 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Data and Statistics. Web. 7 November 2012
National Institute of Mental Health. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Web. 7 November 2012
PR Newswire. New Survey Sheds Lights on Moms’ Perspectives About ADHD Medications. Web. 7 November 2012
Reviewed November 7, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith