ADHD Awareness Month aims to educate on everyday impact

The effects of ADHD go beyond the classroom, and treatment must consider every day life. Getty Images

October marks the beginning of ADHD Awareness Month, giving Canadians the opportunity to educate themselves about the most prevalent childhood psychiatric disorder in Canada.

According to the Centre for AHDA Awareness Canada, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, affects around five per cent of children worldwide, with 60 per cent of them continuing to be affected by symptoms into adulthood.

Still, it remains under-diagnosed in Canada, despite being highly treatable.

Dr. Suzanne Pelletier is a pediatrician who has worked with patients diagnosed with ADHD for 15 years. She says the most effective treatment is a multilevel approach.

“Find adaptation strategies, find accommodations at school,” she said. “And many times psychotherapy can help.

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“Of course, there’s medication, but pills don’t teach skills. Pills help focus, help with emotions and it helps when learning to plan, organize and prioritize.”

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One common misconception is that the only area largely affected by an ADHD diagnoses is at school. In reality, the disorder doesn’t go away once the bell rings — it has an effect on four major areas of life, and Dr. Pelletier maintains that treatment can be life changing.

“We help the kids to optimize their functioning. So we help them in their personal life, we help them have better self esteem in their social life and in their school life. And in their family life, there’s less stress and less conflict.”

ADHD Awareness Month is an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about the disorder; how it’s diagnosed, treated and even the positive effects.

“As I tell my patients, ADHD can be a superpower,” Dr. Pelletier said. “There’s a lot of successful people with ADHD. A lot of innovation [comes from people with ADHD], because when you have ADHD you think outside the box and can do amazing things.”
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And if her years of experience in the field aren’t qualification enough, she has plenty of first-hand experience.

“I’m a mother of three young adults with ADHD that are doing amazing. We did struggle, but we found help, we found solutions. And now we enjoy and celebrate their success in every aspect of their lives,” she said.

If you’d like to share your story of living with ADHD, you can get involved with the Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada, or use #ADHDSPEAKS on social media.

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