About 50 parents and educators were at Perham Health Monday night to hear a variety of experts talk about ADHD.
The ADHD Summit was sponsored by Empowering Kids and Perham Health. Christi Stoll, general manager of Empowering Kids, said the event is a good opportunity to show the disorder from every perspective.
The summit’s keynote speaker, Dr. Joshua Chapman, a Perham Health pediatrician, laid out the basics of what ADHD is.
In what he described as an “eat your vegetables presentation” Chapman started by saying that ADHD is a neurological developmental behavioral disorder that affects about 11% of all children.
It’s not laziness, intentional or poor parenting, but can be made worse by sugar, screen time and poor discipline, Chapman said.
While it might seem like too many children are being diagnosed with ADHD, Chapman said it’s the opposite: It’s under-diagnosed and under-treated, with half of all cases going untreated. Left untreated, ADHD can create substance abuse problems when patients look to self medicate, Chapman said
Chapman strongly recommended evaluating a patient by a child psychologist, while using a team approach (child, parents and teachers) to collect as much information as possible.
“Take advantage of experienced people who see a lot of kids,” Chapman said.
Molly Mostowski, a paraprofessional at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, said she came to the summit wanting to gain insight into the mind of a child suffering from ADHD and “think as them.”
Later in the summit, Perham Health pharmacist Jodie Trites talked about medications that can be used to treat ADHD.
Depending on the conditions and age of the patient, medications can be highly effective in getting kids to pay attention, according to Trites.
Medications treat ADHD symptoms by regulating imbalances in the dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in the brain, Trites said.
Prescriptions are broken down into stimulants and nonstimulants. Trites said stimulants are the first line of defense based on their safety and effectiveness. Seventy to 80% of patients taking a stimulant see relief from their symptoms, according to Trites.
When a medication is effective, it will increase a patient's focus, memory, improve sleep habits and make them less impulsive.
“If it’s the right medication, it won’t affect their personality,” Trites said. “It will help their personality flourish.”