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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs