News / Health

    Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

    Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions
    Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions
    Faiza Elmasry

    More than five million American children and teens have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a condition that makes it difficult - if not impossible - to focus and complete tasks. When Katherine Ellison found herself yelling at her son constantly to shut up, she didn't know that he had ADHD, nor that she had it too. Together, they embarked on a year-long quest to understand the disorder, investigating and trying different treatments.  Ellison chronicled their experiences in a new book, Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.

    Buzz Ellison had many problems in elementary school. He could not sit still, and was constantly jumping up and down in class, not paying attention to his teachers, not focusing on the task at hand. As a result, his mother Katherine Ellison says, he was always in trouble.

    "His attitude towards school really changed. I think he got bullied both by his peers and his teachers who insisted that he could do things that he really wasn't capable of doing at that age and remembering things and they gave him a lot of negative feedback," said Ellison.

    Katherine Ellison, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, says she didn't understand why he behaved like that, and admits, her behavior was also contributing to the situation.

    "I was making things worse often by being anxious or being impatient or not understanding him. I realized at some point that I really hadn't hugged him in a while. I wasn't smiling when he came into the room because we were having such a hard time," recalled Ellison.

    Buzz was diagnosed with ADHD when he was nine. And, like many parents of children with ADHD, Ellison learned she had the disorder as well. She was in her late 40s.  

    "It was a great relief to actually get a diagnosis, because I had spent a lifetime really wondering what was going on and why I seem to be different from so many other people I knew," Ellison noted.  "I, like many people with ADD, had a rollercoaster of a life. For instance, I got sued for $11 million for a reporting error that I made in one of my first years as a newspaper reporter. And two years later, I won a Pulitzer Prize. So these are the kinds of things that often happen when you got this disorder; you're capable of really amazing things and very humiliating, terrible things."

    Ellison and Buzz decided to work together to deal with their disorder and write a book about their experience.

    "My son and I started out by writing a contract together, which was terrific because it changed the perspective from being a shameful problem that we had to a joint business project," explained Ellison.  "I also knew that he would cooperate with me. He wanted a percentage of the profits from the book. I was willing to do that because all of a sudden we're partners rather than antagonists."

    Mother and son delved into the world of ADHD for a year, researching various remedies, specialists and alternative therapies for treatment.

    "The two of us spent a lot of time going to neuro-feedback sessions, a process that's a kind of bio-feedback for the brain where you're actually conditioning your brain with the help of computers to slow down, become more calm and focused," said Ellison.  "We tried meditation. We both really focused on getting aerobic exercise and we got counseling. And all of these things helped."

    Ellison and Buzz also tried prescription drugs, which doctors often recommend to help youngsters cope with the symptoms of ADHD.

    "I was completely against medication," recalled Ellison.  "I thought kids are being over-medicated, which they are, but it turns out that many kids are not getting the help they need. I want to really make clear that I don't believe meds alone or meds for life are good strategies. And I think that it must be part of a more comprehensive approach."

    Although ADHD is an increasingly common diagnosis, there are many misconceptions about it.

    "One of the biggest misconceptions is parents think that this is their fault," said Peter Levine, a pediatrician in California, who specializes in treating children with ADHD.  "Other parents will blame them for it because they see the way these kids acting and they will say, 'What's wrong with you? Why can't you control your child?' So parents will blame themselves. Another misconception is that the child really is not trying, because oftentimes these kids are trying harder than other kids to control their behaviors. That leads to a lot of frustrations."

    Levine says the first step in dealing with ADHD is getting the facts straight.

    "In America, the diagnosis rate in children generally is quoted in the range of about 3 to 7 percent of children," noted Levine.  "It's more common in boys, by about three to one. This is a highly inheritable disorder. They can't get over ADHD. I mean it's not something that you can make go away. As many as two-third of the children who have problems with ADHD will have difficulties as adults. You can't cure it. You have to find ways of coping with it."

    One of the most effective ways to do that, he says, is changing ones parenting style. That's what Katherine Ellison did. She says she is now paying more attention to her son, spending more quality time with him, being less judgmental and giving him more positive feedback. And Buzz is responding with fewer outbursts at home and at school, more focus on doing his school work and a new interest in playing tennis.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora