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ADHD awareness week: what one family wants you to keep in mind

Watch above: Saskatoon family shares its struggle with ADHD

SASKATOON – It affects millions of children.

ADHD – attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder – is a chronic condition and children who suffer from it often have difficulty sustaining attention, are hyperactive and impulsive.

Ten-year old Jacob Ness is one of them.

“With Jacob it can be a matter of, it’s time to go upstairs and practice the piano, he’ll make it up the stairs but as soon as he gets to the room, it’s Lego time,” said Jacob’s mother Shawna Ness.

With his inability to concentrate, homework that would take another child his age ten minutes to do would take Jacob an hour.

“It got to the point where the kids were pushing him away and he was becoming socially isolated and as a parent that’s the hardest thing to see your kid go through and that’s why we started the meds,” said Ness, who says Jacob started last December.

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“I can concentrate a lot better, I can get my work done and when I didn’t take I had lots of homework,” explained Jacob.

Tony Nadon, Jacob’s father agreed. “His concentration, his behavior or just his shear mood it definitely changed.”

Every morning, Jacob takes a drug called Concerta.

“I take it in the morning with food and water so I can swallow it. If you don’t take it with food it makes your stomach upsets and at lunch time it takes away your appetite.”

A common side-effect of the drug is appetite suppression so his parents will often take Jacob off the medication during the week-ends or summer breaks.

Other than that the family has been pleased with the drug and say Jacob’s reading level and math have improved so too have his social skills.

“He’s made a lot more friends in class so that’s been the most rewarding part is seeing him happier at school,” explained a smiling Shawna.

The family has also taken advantage of programs offered by the Learning Disabilities Association of Saskatchewan.

“We try to teach the kids, what is add, what does it mean to them, how does their particular ADHD look like, how does it affect them, what can they do about it and teach them some strategies so they can begin to advocate for themselves especially in school,” said Barb Popoff, manager of the ADHD Coaching Department at the Learning Disabilities Association of Saskatchewan.

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When asked if ADHD is over-diagnosed, Popoff disagreed.

“It’s under-diagnosed , is really the truth and it’s under-diagnosed mostly in girls and women and some adults. Adults because they always thought they’d outgrow it but they don’t, you don’t outgrow ADHD, you learn to cope with it.”

Every year the organization provides support to more than 60 children and a hundred adults living with the condition.

“People with ADHD are not behaving the way they are with the soul intention of driving you crazy, of making life so frustrating, they’re just as frustrated if not more.”

It’s a statement echoed by Jacob’s parents.

“Don’t be so quick to judge, give him a chance because he’s also the most tender, most passionate, most loving little guy too.”

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