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Doctor treating ADHD with different approach

Posted at 11:46 AM, Oct 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-27 11:46:36-04

 NEW BRITAIN, CT (WTIC/CNN) – Treating ADHD in children usually involves medication, but a doctor in Connecticut has found a different method that is proving effective.

For years, 11-year-old Rashad Jeffreys showed all the classic signs of attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

“Since kindergarten, he’s had some problems with behavior and focusing, and his grades and making poor choices,” said Christine Jefferys, his mother.

Rashad told about his struggles.

“It was hard because I couldn’t say focused at all,” he said.

Things came to a head in fifth grade.

“Twenty to twenty-five minutes worth of homework would take three hours,” he said. “I would get bad grades. I would get in trouble.”

His first report card was all Ds and Fs.

His mother agreed to try medication.

“We tried it and he would do good in school, but when he would come home he would be tired. His head would hurt. He wouldn’t eat. Nobody wants to see their kid like that,” his mom said.

Then she found a doctor who took a different approach to treating ADHD.

“It’s not that, even in my clinic, we’re against the medication. It’s that more and more parents are looking for alternatives,” said Dr. Robert Reynolds of the Reynolds Clinic.

The alternative comes from an emerging understanding of how the brain works – and ADHD can be about a lot more than just attention.

“I tell parents, I say, ‘You think your child has attention deficit disorder. What if I gave him a Game Boy right now? Would I see any deficit of attention there? I don’t think so,” Reynolds said.

Doctor said what looks just like an attention problem can often be a problem with what’s called “executive functions.”

Those are different skills we use to manage and organize ourselves in order to achieve a goal. And any one, or all of them can can go wrong.

Some kids have specific problems with “starting tasks.”

“Parents end up fighting with their children about getting that homework underway,” Reynolds aid. “Getting it started … ‘Oh, I want to have a snack. Oh, I want to run about and play a little bit more.’”

While other kids can focus on the tasks they do start.

“So the child finally gets started on his homework but often forgets to turn it in,” he said.

If your child finishes homework but often forgets to turn it in, that could be a problem with organizing and planning.

And then there’s emotional control. The outbursts – something Rashad and him mom knew all too wel

They had a lot of fights. There was a lot of yelling and crying on both sides.

“This is why it’s important to identify which of the executive functions needs to be addressed,” Reynolds aid. “It’s not all of them.”

Copyright 2017 WTIC via CNN. All rights reserved.