Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often a misunderstood disorder. Even with all the research and information available to us, the misconceptions become a problem when the symptoms are overlooked. So what does ADHD look like? Is it the child that’s easily distracted, has difficulty paying attention or sitting still? Yes, that could be ADHD. But there could be more to it than that.
In today’s episode, Dr. Nicholas Thaler helps us understand what ADHD is and what it is not. Dr. Thaler is a clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in assessing youth with learning disorders, ADHD, and traumatic brain injuries. Along with that, he has also published numerous peer-reviewed papers on various neuropsychological conditions and is a faculty member at UCLA. He is extremely knowledgeable on this topic and brings to light so many misconceptions. He also gives practical recommendations on things parents can do at home to help their children with executive functioning tasks that their ADHD may make seemingly insurmountable.
Remember that ADHD is a lifelong disorder but it isn’t something that will always be disabling. Dr. Thaler says, “Many adults are successful because of their ADHD.”
[2:39] – There has been so much research and so much information available, but there are a lot of common misconceptions of ADHD.
[3:15] – Due to the pandemic, parents are now watching their children in a learning environment and are unsure of why they are struggling with paying attention.
[4:44] – A lot of parents are unsure on what is age appropriate and what is abnormal.
[5:17] – Dr. Thaler defines ADHD, what it really is, and how it can mimic other executive functioning disorders.
[6:13] – Since so much of ADHD impacts behavior and learning, Dr. Thaler explains that attention in the learning environment is where observations should occur.
[7:39] – Dr. Thaler explains why the ideal time to look into assessment of ADHD is around 8 or 9 years old or when transitioning to a different learning environment.
[9:38] – The maturation of the brain makes a big difference for assessing ADHD.
[10:34] – There are three types of ADHD.
[11:09] – Focus is different than attention. Children with ADHD can focus on preferred activities easily.
[12:01] – Dr. Thaler describes what happens in the brain with and without ADHD.
[13:17] – A task that is not preferred but has to be done, such as washing the dishes, can seem insurmountable to someone with ADHD.
[13:50] – The word “attention” in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a misnomer. Dr. Thaler explains that attention may not be the actual problem.
[15:04] – Another expression of ADHD is the predominantly inattentive type. Individuals with this presentation aren’t displaying hyperactive behavior and are more often sluggish. They are overlooked a lot of the time.
[16:51] – There is also a predominantly hyperactive type, which is something that Dr. Thaler doesn’t diagnose often.
[19:09] – With ADHD, the executive system is a little bit delayed compared to a child’s peers.
[20:33] – A delay in maturation can also lead to a delay in diagnosis with the “they’ll grow out of it” mindset.
[21:58] – Sometimes Dr. Thaler is challenged by parents who had ADHD and were “totally fine,” but he expresses that they probably weren’t completely fine.
[22:53] – There has been more acceptance surrounding ADHD in schools and households.
[23:43] – Children with ADHD are often working so much harder than their peers just to pay attention and they are also getting cues that they are not doing things correctly.
[24:55] – Children get confused about why they can’t control their behavior.
[26:04] – Parent-child therapy and counseling is recommended. Dr. Thaler also discusses the importance of communication with schools and teachers.
[27:27] – A 504 plan or IEP might be necessary in the learning environment and should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
[28:31] – Medication is also available for children who need it. Dr. Thaler explains the need for a psychiatrist for this and what to look for in a good psychiatrist.
[30:07] – There are some organizational things that parents can do at home to help their children. Dr. Thaler suggests making the implicit explicit.
[31:34] – Dr. Thaler gives examples of strategies to use at home that can help children with executive functioning skills.
[33:18] – ADHD is a lifelong disorder but it isn’t something that will always be disabling. Many adults are very successful because of their ADHD.
[35:29] – Dr. Thaler believes that ADHD itself isn’t a big deal but there are certain risk factors that Dr. Thaler explains.
[36:41] – Symptoms can look different in each child.
About Our Guest:
Dr. Nicholas Thaler is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist with extensive experience working with individuals across the lifespan. He specializes in assessing youth with learning disabilities, ADHD, and traumatic brain injury and has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers on neuropsychological conditions. He maintains a faculty position at the UCLA Neuropsychology training program and is the current president of the Asian Neuropsychological Association.
Connect with Dr. Thaler:
Links and Related Resources:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- What Causes ADHD?
- Mindfulness in the Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
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