Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lessons Learned From Dr. Hallowell

Lessons Learned From Dr. Hallowell

Families may face a slow destruction if a member has ADHD and it is not diagnosed or treated. Consider this scenario described by Hallowell:
"The child with ADD chronically fails to meet obligations, do chores, stay up with school work, keep to family schedules...participate in family life cooperatively, and in general, 'get with the program' at home. This leads to chronic limit-setting by parents, with increasingly stringent penalties and increasingly tight limitations on the child. This in turn, makes the child more defiant, less cooperative, and more alienated, which leads parents to feel more exasperated with what increasingly appears to be an attitude problem, under voluntary control, rather than the neurological problem of ADD.....Gradually, the child's role in the family solidifies around being the 'problem child,' and he or she becomes the designated scapegoat for all the family's conflicts and problems." (page 128)


Siblings of children with ADHD may suffer silently or loudly, but they definitely suffer. Hallowell explains that siblings are naturally going to feel resentment or confusion when the other child receives the attention (whether positive or negative). Hallowell states, "The diagnosis can require a whole rethinking of the family roles." (page 132)

A common source of conflict in families in which a member has ADHD is control. The parent's sense of control is threatened and the parent overreacts by trying to "control every last detail." The result of this is, according to Hallowell, that "the controlling hand serves to raise, rather than reduce, tension and conflict within the family." (page 137) To alleviate the resulting conflicts of control issues, Hallowell details a helpful system of negotiation for families to implement. (page 139)

The person who has ADD may also have other related disorders which significantly affect his or her daily life. These are explained by Hallowell and include hyperactivity, depression, anxiety, agitation or mania, substance abuse, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Disorder, Borderline Personality features, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and/or learning disorders. He cleverly calls this chapter, which could seem overwhelming, "Parts of the Elephant," reminding one of the joke about how to eat an elephant--one bite at a time! (page 151)

Hallowell, throughout the book, emphasizes proper diagnosis and states, "The most important 'test' in making the diagnosis of ADD is the taking of the individual's history." He then outlines the steps to take to proceed through the process of diagnosis. (page 195)

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