By Lee Gehrls, Volunteer Resource Development Coordinator

Dr. Gary A. SneadMany of us in the St. Cloud area know that when we have questions on ADHD one of our leading physicians to go to for answers is Dr. Gary A. Snead who is a pediatrician at St. Cloud Medical Group NW.  Dr. Snead has 25 years of practice experience treating children and adults with ADHD and other mental health disorders.  He has an impressive medical background.  He attended medical school from 1983-87 at AT Still University – Kirksville College of Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri.  He then had a general internship from 1987-88 through Tulsa Regional Medical Center Tulsa and Idabel, Oklahoma.  Dr. Snead completed his medical training in a Pediatric Residency through Michigan State University – College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lansing, Michigan from 1988-1991.

We are pleased to be a co-sponsor of this workshop.  Dr. Snead is recognized for his many presentations in our community on ADHD and the related issues that often accompany the disorder and has been a frequent presenter for Resource®  Training & Solutions over the years.  He was a key organizer, promoter and leader in the development of A-D-A-MSM (Attention Deficit Awareness of Minnesota, Inc.).  Dr. Snead served as the chair of A-D-A-MSM from 1995 to 2005 and worked tirelessly to help build it into the organization it is today.  He was a key supporter of the publications of two editions of the Community Resource Directory (CRD) in 1995 and 1996 which were comprehensive listings of providers and services in Benton, Sherburne, Stearns and Wright counties for those who have ADHD.  He is a true champion for all kids, adults and families who live with ADHD!  

As the volunteer coordinator with the nonprofit, I have had the good fortune to work alongside Dr. Snead for many years in researching and addressing the needs of those in our service area who have ADHD and daily face the many different challenges it can present.  

I hope this brief Q&A with Dr. Snead motivates you to attend our workshop on Saturday, October 8th to hear more from him about working with kids and adults with ADHD.  October is National ADHD Awareness Month and an evening of listening and learning on ADHD is always time well spent.

Q&A with Dr. Snead on ADHD:

You have been working with ADHD families for 25 years. All the experts in the field say it is very important that parents, adults with ADHD and the families educate themselves on the disorder and all the related issues. Why is this an important part of the treatment plan?

Parents/spouses and family members are living with the person(s) in the family with the ADHD diagnosis. Their comprehension and acceptance of ADHD and the issues that make up the diagnosis for that family member, helps provide a safe environment that can support them and help them learn the behavior shaping plans they will need in school/team/work/or other settings. They can be safe mirrors for the person to see what they are actually doing, saying, or not doing or saying, as well as models of patterns of healthy behavior and interaction. Their efforts allow the ADHD child or adult to learn how to be their own advocate to let others know what works and doesn’t work for them. They can be a better participant in physician visits, counseling sessions, 504 or IEP review meetings, etc.

No parent wants to give their child medication if they don’t have to and the question on whether or not to use medication as part of the treatment plan for ADHD can be controversial. How do you discuss this option with parents?

I first try to hear their ideas on the impairing issues related to the diagnosis for the person involved. Then I request that they tell me what they know, what they’ve heard about the medications available, and if they know anyone who has taken any and what happened.  Then I explain the neurobiological facts about the diagnosis and the consequences of not treating. I discuss what research has shown about treating with waiting, counseling by itself, medication by itself, and with the combination of home and outside of home plans, counseling, and medication.

How do you come up with a treatment plan for those families who opt out of using medication?

I just take medication out of the above last sentence, while focusing on “how we will know what is working” by connecting the impairments that led to the diagnosis with the possible interventions.

What should parents do to help their child learn to be their own advocate and case manager for their ADHD and what age do you start to train them?

I go back to the points I made in the first question and the importance of the parents/spouse and family members.  Ideally the person learns from the first time I meet them how to become more and more of an advocate for themselves.

How do you work with your teen patients to manage their recheck appointment with you?

I try to empower my pre-teen, teen, and young adult patients to track how they think they are doing. I ask them to tell me what they are doing that helps them cope. I encourage them to listen to those around them, peers, teachers, authority, parents, family to understand from outside themselves how they are doing.