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per · se · ver · ance, n. 1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Anyone who has ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) or lives with someone who has it, knows all too well the perseverance that is needed in order to deal with the ongoing life challenges of this disorder. It takes perseverance to find well qualified health care professionals who can accurately assess, diagnose, treat and manage ADHD in children, adolescents, young adults (college students) and adults. The work does not stop there. The individual must be persistent in:
- following their treatment and management plan
- keeping follow-up doctor and counseling appointments
- maintaining or securing financial/insurance means in order to treat the disorder
- making sure that their current medical/education information is distributed between all the health care providers who are involved in their treatment and management team
- educating themselves on the many issues, latest research and new treatments on ADHD
This will go on their entire life. Most will also need to find individual, spousal and sibling support; educational planning; information and educational resources; community support; leisure and recreational opportunities; employment and work skills training along with job placement. Additional support such as job coaching, independent living skills training and perhaps even activities of daily living skills may be needed. Looking at the whole picture, one can see that ADHD has life-long effects on those with the disorder, their families, their income and their overall self-respect.
Persons with ADHD often have duel disorders. This means that ADHD could occur with other medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, seizures, hearing or speech impairments, just to name a few. ADHD may occur with other psychiatric disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, chemical dependency and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Treating ADHD in conjunction with other medical or psychiatric disorders significantly compounds the challenges of effective management.
Approximately 10% of school age children have ADHD. Of this population, some will be hyperactive, others will be inattentive and others may have the combined type. 70% of children with ADHD will become adults with ADHD/ADD. Approximately 50% of students with ADHD will have a learning disability, and will likely require an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) or 504 Planning from kindergarten through high school. Students who continue with post-secondary education must be able to be their own advocate and know how to utilize Student Disability Services when needed.
Dr. Edward Hallowell recently stated on a television talk show that nine million Americans have ADHD/ADD and that 75% are never diagnosed (Dr. Oz broadcast 12/29/2010). Unfortunately a number of individuals will fall through the cracks and not receive proper diagnosis and treatment. Others may choose to not follow their treatment plan or will not educate themselves about ADHD. This can result in poor decision making, bad choices, loss of employment, broken relationships and legal difficulties. Depression may frequently accompany ADHD in adulthood.
ADHD has no cure. There is no magic formula or innovative technology that will make everything right. However, ADHD can be managed and individuals can be successful in life. It takes hard work, well-trained health care providers and educators, an outstanding support system, self-education and PERSERVERANCE.
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