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Overview of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Foster and adoptive parents frequently hear from physicians that a particular child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The diagnosis itself does not educate us as to what ADHD is, what it means for a child, or how it will impact our families. It is my sincere hope that this training module will support you as you work to find appropriate help for your child or children. I know how frazzled parents of children with ADHD can be at the end of a day. I hope you can find some quiet time to read through this material so you can think about how you can apply the information to your family.

If you will click on [Overview] (at the top of this page), you will be able to read information I have written about ADHD. Because there are several excellent sources for current information about ADHD on the web, I have provided many links to those sources. You may read all of them, or choose to read those topics you may need help with right away and return to read the rest on another day. If you conduct your own web search, be aware that there are some sites on the web that include out dated information that perpetuate myths and try to undermine sound medical treatment for children with ADHD. In the content of some web sites, you will find claims that have no scientific research as support. Most of the sites that are problematic usually try to sell you something - either services or products. I have carefully selected sites with credible information so that we can start our discussions from the same information base.

One of the most important concepts that I hope you will keep in mind as we look at information on ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is that this condition has been and is presently being researched extensively by professionals in many different fields. There are a lot of things that we know about ADHD, but there are certainly many things that we do not know about ADHD. What you learn about ADHD today may provide a building block for new understanding for tomorrow's research, or it may be completely replaced with better or more complete information in a few months or years. It is important that parents keep updated on new research on ADHD. The more you know about ADHD and how it affects your child, the better prepared you will be to parent effectively!

ADHD is a disorder of numerous inconsistencies. You may find numerous statements and descriptions of children with ADHD that describe your child perfectly; but you may also find statements and descriptions of children with ADHD that do not describe your child at all. As researchers are finding different abilities in children, all labeled ADHD, you will become aware that some children are very hyperactive, while others are quiet and under active. Some children with the ADHD label have serious behavior problems and have few friends, while others have rarely caused problems for parents or teachers and are well liked. Some children with ADHD may have specific learning disabilities, while other children with ADHD are gifted students. We must all remember that our child with ADHD is first of all a child who needs our love and understanding support. The more we learn about this disorder, the more we can help.

After reading some basic information about ADHD, you may want to return to this page and then go to the discussion page. If you have questions about any of the readings, or comments about any of the materials you find about attention deficit disorders, please let me know. We can learn from each other!


J. Marlene Snyder, Ph.D. is an independent educational consultant from Whitefish, Montana. If you think you have seen her before, you probably have! Marlene is a native Nebraskan and previously was the Curriculum and Human Resource Specialist at the Center on Children, Families and the Law at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL). Marlene was a member of the Nebraska Humanities Council Speakers Bureau and has delivered many presentations throughout the state as Clara Bewick Colby.

In 1989, as a volunteer parent, Marlene founded CH.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) of Southeast Nebraska and served as its coordinator for six years. She served on the National CH.A.D.D. Board of Directors from 1992-1997. She conducts teacher training entitled, Accommodating the Child (Teen) with Attention Deficit Disorders for elementary school teachers and Teaching Teens with ADHD for secondary school teachers. Dr. Snyder provides consultation to school administrators and elected school board officials regarding the school district's responsibilities to students with ADHD. She has also provided training about attention deficit disorders for child protective service workers and foster and adoptive parents. Dr. Snyder also presents Unique Challenges, Hopeful Responses; Youth with Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System to people working in the justice system. This training module explores ADHD and other disabilities relative to the juvenile justice system

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