Did you know that between 25 and 33 percent of children with ADHD have a coexisting anxiety disorder? In fact, childhood anxiety is the second most common condition co-occurring with ADHD. So how can we help children who struggle with both? We’ve had several conversations about ADHD and anxiety separately, but now let’s dive into the topic of comorbidity with today’s guest Dr. Norrine Russell.
Dr. Russell comes to us with over 20 years of experience creating positive youth development and parenting education programs. She has extensive knowledge of child development, learning profiles, special needs, and positive parenting philosophies. She blends this knowledge to provide students and parents with comprehensive support and the tools they need to grow and thrive. I am thrilled to have her join this conversation today.
In this episode, Dr. Russell describes what it might look like for a child or an adolescent to struggle with both ADHD and anxiety and what that means for parents and caregivers.
[2:26] – The “honeymoon period” after starting the new school year is over.
[4:11] – Comorbidity is when you have two or more disorders.
[5:16] – Since the pandemic, there are more children experiencing anxiety, children experiencing higher anxiety, and more parents with anxiety.
[6:37] – Support for anxiety often includes family support.
[7:44] – There has been a cultural shift in parenting that has created increased anxiety.
[9:10] – Sometimes the trigger for an anxious parent is another parent’s experience.
[10:43] – Anxiety hijacks the brain.
[12:02] – The process of calming down and being inside the thinking part of their brain can take a long time for a student with anxiety.
[13:51] – It’s common for adolescents with anxiety to stuff their anxiety down, but there will be a trigger that allows it to come back up.
[15:02] – It’s important to consider the question of comorbidity. This impacts the approach to helping students with either ADHD, anxiety or both.
[16:28] – Very few have just ADHD.
[18:15] – Multimodal therapy is the most impactful.
[19:56] – Medication isn’t a magic potion but alongside coaching can be helpful. A combined approach is what’s best.
[21:30] – When medication is needed and there’s a delay in accessing it, there can be a contribution to anxiety.
[23:54] – A common concern about medication is addiction.
[25:18] – There is a lot of misinformation out there for parents when making decisions about treatment for their children.
[26:36] – Collaboration between therapists and other adults working with students is very valuable.
[28:31] – For younger children, it is harder for them to understand their feelings. Older children will be able to identify when they feel anxious.
[30:01] – Sometimes teacher comments are taken as mandates to take action when in reality it is just information.
[31:18] – It is not your fault. You do not need to feel ashamed. But, you are responsible for finding out what to do.
[32:30] – People in a child’s support team all have a different role.
[33:40] – Be clear on what support schools can provide.
About Our Guest:
Dr. Norrine Russell is the founder of Russell Coaching for Students, which uses an innovative method of coaching for complex students, including those who are 2E; have ADHD, Autism, or Anxiety; and those with learning differences. This innovative method, Connected Coaching, has proven successful for hundreds of students since 2009. She is the author of the recently published guide for parents, “Asking the Right Questions Before, During, and After Your Child’s ADHD Diagnosis.”
Connect with Dr. Russell:
Links and Related Resources:
- Episode 67: Your Child’s Anxiety – When to Worry with Dr. John Piacentini
- Anxiety and the Family
- Episode 99: Straight Talk About ADHD in Girls with Dr. Stephen Henshaw
- FOMO and How it Might Affect Children with Attention Issues
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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.