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New NAMI ADHD Resource Center: Itís Not Just About Kids

by Christine Armstrong, NAMI

ADHD Resource Center
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All of us, at one time or another, have daydreamed in the classroom, struggled to focus on a project at work or made impulsive decisions that we have regretted.

However, people who live with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) experience ongoing difficulties with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that disrupt their lives and relationships at home, school and work.

NAMI has launched a new, interactive, online ADHD Resource Center to help individuals manage their illness and educate parents, caregivers, school professionals and others about the needs of children living with the condition.

We hope that these resources generate discussions at dinner tables, schools and offices. We encourage you to review the information on this site, to work with your health provider to tailor a plan that works best for you or your loved and to connect with your local NAMI for additional support.

Understanding ADHD

Read about the genetics of ADHD in a recent article from The Lancet.

When some people hear the term ADHD, the image of a restless young student squirming in a desk seat comes to mind. However, ADHD also affects adolescents and adults and is often not diagnosed until later in a personís life. In fact, we frequently hear stories of a parent first recognizing their own symptoms while trying to get help for a child.

ADHD is a serious medical condition. The consequences of untreated ADHD include school failure, job loss, strained or broken relationships, major depression or substance abuse.

The good news is that these outcomes are preventable. We know with early identification and treatment, both children and adults living with ADHD can succeed in work or school and develop meaningful relationships.

Many people find that an individualized, multifaceted approach that uses medical, educational, behavioral and psychological treatments helps them best manage their condition. At the NAMI ADHD Resource Center, you can explore information on all these methods, read the personal stories of people living well with ADHD and listen to experts discuss the latest treatment information.

School Supports and Services for Children Living with ADHD

For children, school life is the center of their universeóthey spend most of their day learning, socializing and participating in activities at school.

Students living with ADHD may be absent-minded, have difficulty sitting still and speak out of turn, which can be challenging for themselves, teachers and other students. Itís not surprising that ADHD can have a significant impact on a studentís academic achievement, but it also has a ripple effect on relationships with peers.

Itís crucial that parents and teachers recognize these symptoms so that they can address them as soon as possible. We know that parents and caregivers want to best support their children-- and yet navigating both mental health and school systems can be daunting.

The NAMI ADHD Resource Center equips parents with tools, such as a step-by-step overview of how to get school-based services and support, as well as a guide to developing an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Reviewing these materials can help parents work with teachers and other school personnel to map out a strategy to get the best support for students, helping them to reach their potential.

Beyond our website, NAMI is also there to support parents of children with ADHD in their local communities. Many states offer NAMI Basics, a free education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illnesses. The course is taught by trained teachers who have experience caring for children living with mental illness and have worked with schools and mental health professionals.

ADHD and Adult Relationships

While children living with ADHD may struggle with social interactions at school, adults living with ADHD also may find developing and maintaining relationships problematic.

Spouses, friends, children or colleagues may interpret inattentiveness or forgetfulness as disinterest on the part of the person living with ADHD. Impulsive decisions such as making a big purchase without thinking through the costs, can also strain relationships.

Our ADHD Resource Center offers comprehensive suggestions for addressing and managing the illness in relationships, which may be helpful for both people living with ADHD and their loved ones. Our tips on addressing ADHD in romantic relationships, including advice on finances, intimacy and resolving conflicts, can help spouses or partners acknowledge pitfalls and work together to address them.

For example, adults may consider joining a local NAMI Connection support group where they can share their struggles and triumphs with other people living with mental illness.

Beyond family and friends, itís also critical to understand the impact ADHD can have on relationships with colleagues or supervisors. The ADHD Resource Center offers information on managing relationships at work, as well as employee rights, accommodations and strategies for succeeding at work. These tools will empower people living with ADHD and their loved ones.