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The Impact ADHD has on a Family Impacts Whether a Child Receives Help

A new Australian study looked at why some children with ADHD present quite late without having receiving any professional services. Researchers wanted to understand what drives parents to look for medical services for their child’s issues. The study collected information on 179 children ages 6 to 8 who met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD from 43 schools in Melbourne and found that 37% had not received any professional services within the past year. The researchers found families sought out help more for older children and children whose behaviour impacted the family. When impact on the family increased it doubled the likelihood that that child had received services.

This is of significant concern because research tells us that in fact it is the impairment in attention regulation and not the outward hyperactive or impulsive behaviour that causes the most impairment for these children, especially academically. These research findings may also be helpful when looking at why fewer girls are diagnosed at earlier ages.

The parent’s mental health, education level or socioeconomic status did not influence whether parents had accessed services for their child. Of the 17% who had been diagnosed before the survey 94% had received services. Fifty-seven percent had not been diagnosed before the survey. One of the physicians who commented noted that when they finally diagnosed older children parents frequently stated that symptoms had been evident for many years.

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