Distractible? Restless? Impulsive?

These are the familiar symptoms that doctors and psychologists focus on (pardon the pun) when rendering a diagnosis of ADHD. Known symptoms – Known diagnosis – it’s that simple, right? … Wrong.

Although these symptoms are indicative of ADHD, the very same symptoms sometimes result from other things instead. For instance, when you are hungry or tired, anxious or vexed, depressed or stressed, you may wind up with those same behaviours yet clearly not be ADHD. For those regular cognitive bumps caused by the pressures of daily life, once the triggers are removed, the symptoms evaporate and then you know it’s not ADHD.

But if these behaviours start at a young age, are persistent, and consistently get in the way of daily functions and success in the classroom, then ADHD is definitely a possibility. That would indicate that the cause is basically neurological and not psychological.

Sometimes, however, the cause is not organic but rather there are social factors that result in the child becoming inattentive, fidgety, or impulsive. This is often the case with children who have been subject to abuse, neglect, or trauma.

To cloud matters even more, many medical professionals think that ADHD and all such labels serve no purpose and that psychiatry should exit the diagnosis business entirely because, according to them, there are no medically definable mental conditions – only collections of problematic symptoms. In this camp are serious forces to be reckoned with, such as Psychiatrist Prof. Allen Frances (Chairman of the DSM-IV which is the diagnostic ‘bible’ of modern psychiatry) and the British Psychological Society as a whole.

For those of us parents who have had children in ‘treatment’ for ADHD, the waters can get even murkier. One doctor may say the child has ADHD, while another may say he’s actually Bipolar, and a third will decide Anxiety is the issue, while a fourth will claim it’s a Learning Disability, and then others will cite some combination of the above. Then there’s the testing procedure itself – on one day the child complies with testing, but on another day, he won’t and that confounds both the results and the conclusions that are based on them.

Only after all this comes the question of treatment. As we all know, the primary (should I say only?) treatment modality that medicine has for these conditions is – well – medicine. Besides the known problems with these psychotropic pharmaceuticals – e.g., ineffectiveness, serious side effects – the fact is that we don’t really know which meds to give because (a) all kids are different, (b) we often can’t agree on the diagnosis, and (c) we aren’t sure that there is a diagnosis in the first place!

One of the marvels of the Maxi Mind methodology is that we bypass all these conundrums by addressing symptoms directly. Are you unfocused? We train your focus. Hyperactive? We calm your nerves. Impulsive? We boost your patience. How? Through stimulating and enjoyable exercises and activities that strengthen connections in the brain. Known symptoms – proven remedial methods. Is it that simple? Thankfully, in 90% of cases – it is!