ADHD – THE BASICS: ADD and ADHD are psychiatric disorders characterized by inattentiveness or hyperactivity and compulsiveness, which hinder a child's academic or social performance. Because there is no objective clinical test to confirm ADD or ADHD, the diagnosis is based on a set of subjective symptoms. If children exhibit any six of nine characteristics in either category, they are labeled ADD or ADHD. In an effort to help children who are struggling at school because of their short attention spans, many parents, teachers, and doctors make the assumption that these children have ADD and start them on medications. Unfortunately, they are often treating the symptoms and not the real cause. High distractibility and difficulty remaining on task is not the sole domain of ADD.
THE PROBLEM: Children with undetected vision problems can exhibit symptoms similar to ADD. Studies show that approximately 20% of school-aged children suffer from eye teaming or focusing deficits, which make remaining on task for long periods of time difficult. Like those with ADD, children with vision-based learning problems are highly distractible, have short attention spans, make careless errors, fail to complete assignments, and are often fidgety and off task. However, their inability to remain on task is caused by the discomfort of using their eyes for long periods of time at close ranges, not true deficits in attention. Unfortunately, parents and teachers are not trained to recognize the difference and these children are often misdiagnosed.
THE CONNECTION: The connection between eye teaming problems and attention deficit disorders was recently documented in medical journals. The latest research study found children diagnosed with ADHD were three times as likely to have a “convergence insufficiency” than children in the rest of the population.
Dr. David B. Granet, director of the Ratner Children's Eye Center of the University of California in San Diego and a nationally known pediatric ophthalmologist, explains that because this kind of eye teaming problem causes children to have difficulty keeping both eyes focused on a close target, it becomes more difficult for them to concentrate on reading, one of the ways doctors diagnose ADHD. As a result of his research, Dr. Granet says no child should be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD until their visual system has been checked. The reason: the chance of a misdiagnosis is simply too great.
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Portrait Health Centers, the industry leader in the treatment of learning disorders for children and adults, shares tips, news, and advice about the treatment, diagnosis, and therapy options for people struggling with Attention Deficit (ADHD) and other learning disorders.