Bringing Attention to Teenage Problem Clinic Helps Families Take on Attention Deficit Disorder

By Mask, Teresa | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 29, 1997 | Go to article overview

Bringing Attention to Teenage Problem Clinic Helps Families Take on Attention Deficit Disorder


Mask, Teresa, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Teresa Mask Daily Herald Staff Writer

Learning to pay attention

About 3 to 5 percent of school-age children are affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It shows up about twice as often in boys than in girls. Here are a few of the symptoms:

ADHD - Inattentive type

- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes

- Trouble following instructions

- Poor organization skills

- Poor concentration skills

- Often loses things necessary for tasks

ADHD - hyperactive/impulsive type

- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat

- Runs about or climbs excessively

- Talks excessively

- Blurts out answers

- Interrupts others

Source: Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder

Thirteen-year-old Marc Cohen used to sit in class staring at the ceiling or talking to friends, rather than paying attention to teachers.

He tried desperately to focus, but it was difficult.

"I used to tell myself, 'OK, I'm going to concentrate right now,' then I would forget about it and just start staring again," he said. "Our classes are about 45 minutes long and nearly 100 percent of the time I couldn't pay attention."

As a result, his grades were Ds and Fs.

His parents, Wheeling residents Steve and Lynn, thought he was being a "typical" teenager - immature and simply not so crazy about school.

It turns out Marc had a borderline case of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADD or ADHD.

It affects between 3 percent and 5 percent of school-age children, but if not caught early it could go undetected in teenagers, said Dr. Nancy Keck of Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

She treats Marc at the new Teen AD/HD Clinic in the hospital's Yacktman Children's Pavilion. It is the only Northwest suburban hospital to provide such a service.

At the clinic, students learn techniques for becoming more attentive, such as finding ways to better organize.

They also learn about career paths that would best suit their disorder. For example, careers in firefighting and law enforcement are suggested because both require constant activity, doctors said.

If children's ADD is not detected by the time they're teenagers, the disorder often goes undiagnosed because people don't recognize the symptoms. That is why Lutheran General opened its clinic for teens - to try to tap that population that might need help. Most importantly, physicians are hoping to educate parents and teachers about the symptoms so they can become more aware of the disorder.

"In the past people thought people were able to outgrow ADD," Keck said. "Now it is known that many of the kids diagnosed in elementary continue to have signs of the disorder. …

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