Growing number of parents seeking ADD/ADHD diagnoses for children, doctors say

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — As the pandemic wears on, Upstate pediatricians are seeing an influx of parents looking at attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as the source for their children’s falling grades and lack of focus; however, doctors say prescription medication used to treat ADD and ADHD — Vyvanse, Ritalin or Adderall — might not be the solution.

“Just because your child is distracted and all over the place doesn’t mean they need medication,” Dr. Jack Cleland, a pediatrician for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System said.

Cleland said more of his patients’ parents have been inquiring about the possibility their child has ADD or ADHD.

“Right now, my biggest hint for parents is: If this is something new that’s kind of started with the new at-home [school], it’s probably not ADHD,” Cleland said. “If this is something they’ve been noticing for a while and now they’re seeing it in person, that might be one that you really need to talk about.”

In other words, if inattentive behavior is new for a child, or if the child excels in the classroom but lacks focus when working from home, ADD or ADHD might not be to blame.

Cleland said just like adults, children’s lives have been flipped upside down by the pandemic, making focus difficult. In many cases, he said, parents are able get their children back on track by introducing more structure into their days. He recommends having set wake-up times and bedtimes, even on the weekends; he attributes lost attention many times to lack of sleep and lack of routine.

However, if parents do not find success with stricter schedules for their kids, it could be time to speak with pediatricians. Cleland said doctors are committed to finding solutions for children who cannot focus. In many cases, he said, a little boost from medication is all it takes for struggling students to find success.

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