Archives for March 2014

What is ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, is a behavioral disorder that affects approximately 8-10% of school age kids. Although it is not yes understood why, boys are around three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with the disorder. ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsive action and difficulty focusing and sitting still. Although these are traits that all children share, kids with ADHD present these symptoms consistently and in multiple settings. ADHD can impair a child's ability to function academically, socially or in their home environment.


With early intervention and proper treatment, kids with ADHD can successfully learn to manage their symptoms and live a normal life. Greater awareness about the disorder means that children are being diagnosed younger and younger, which is ideal. However, teenagers and adults can also benefit from the treatment options at any age.


There is no specific test to diagnose ADHD and doctors must rely on evaluation and patient history to determine its presence. It is helpful if parents keep a careful log of behaviors and patterns before visiting a pediatrician to determine ADHD. Children must display behaviors that are more severe than their peers for 6 months or longer. The behaviors must also occur in at least two separate areas, such as home and school. Additionally, practitioners must take into account outside stressors or life events, such as divorce or a recent move that may complicate the diagnosis.


ADHD is not caused by vaccines or poor parenting. Although there has been no single cause identified to cause ADHD, researchers have concluded that there are biological origins that are not clearly understood. Current studies are exploring genetic and environmental links. Past studies have shown that many kids with ADHD are four times more likely to have a close relative with the disorder as well. Other risk factors involve smoking during pregnancy and premature birth or low birth weight. Certain areas of  the brain in kids with ADHD are 5%-10% smaller in size and activity, although experts are still unsure whether or not this is a cause of the disorder.


ADHD is often diagnosed in conjunction with coexisting conditions, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety or Learning Disabilities. It is important for parents to have a full evaluation by a specialist when ADHD is suspected in order to catch any of these accompanying conditions for treatment. Although ADHD cannot be officially cured, it can be successfully managed through therapy and treatment. Ideally, a child will be able to learn to recognize when he is being triggered and take steps to normalize his environment.


ADHD is most often treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. A treatment program will involve careful monitoring and adjustments as goals are met. Parental participation is particularly important for successful management of ADHD. Most treatment plans involve a parental education component. Some of the symptoms of ADHD, such a hyperactivity, lessen as a child grows, however, the symptoms involving inattention and organization will remain into adulthood without intervention. Pharmaceuticals such as stimulants, antidepressants or anxiety medications may lessen many of the symptoms of ADHD while a child works on therapy.


Behavioral therapy helps parents and children change behavior patterns. Families learn to implement changes such as creating regular routines, avoiding distractions and using goals and rewards for interaction. Parenting a child with ADHD brings extra challenges, and the usual parenting tactics might need to be adjusted. Yelling, spanking or using time out for bad behavior is often ineffective for children with ADHD. Both parents and children with ADHD must work with therapist to make sure that they can respond appropriately to each other and problem solve in a way that is effective for successful management. Parents also often need support for the stress that is involved with parenting a child with ADHD. 

What Causes ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD is only recently beginning to be understood by researchers. For many years, ADHD was surrounded by myths and fallacies by those who thought it might not be a real disorder or that it was simply an excuse for bad behavior born of neglectful parenting. Although experts are still unsure what exact components lead to ADHD, there are a number of educated theories, most of which suggest that it is a genetic or biological condition rather than the result of outside influences.


It is important that parents do not blame themselves if their children have ADHD. Because the needs of children with ADHD are somewhat different from typical kids, certain parenting styles might exacerbate the negative symptoms of the disorder. This has given rise to the myth that the hyperactivity and acting out done by children with ADHD is the result of poor parenting. Although there are certain risk factors regarding prenatal wellness that could be avoided or reduced, there is more evidence to suggest that ADHD is caused by a combination of factors that are out of anyone's control.


·         Genetics – Researchers are still trying to pin down the link between genetics and ADHD, however, studies have shown that children with the disorder often have a close relative suffering from it as well. Because ADHD so often went undiagnosed in the past, many parents only recognize the symptoms in themselves after seeking help for their children. Additionally, certain genes that control the neurotransmitters, or chemical levels, in the brain have been shown to be different than in those without the disorder.
Researchers are particularly studying the naturally occurring chemical, dopamine, as those with ADHD have lower levels of it. They have also found that children with ADHD who carry a certain version of a particular gene have thinner tissue in the part of the brain associated with attention. Although the brain tissue mostly regains a normal level of thickness by the time adulthood is reached, many of the symptoms of ADHD will remain permanently.

·         Smoking or Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy – Studies show that fetuses exposed to tobacco and alcohol are 2.4 times more likely to have ADHD as those who are not. Alcohol or drug use during pregnancy also affects the neurons that create neurotransmitters, which experts have linked to the disorder. While studies have linked prenatal smoking to behavioral issues in children, the jury is still out with many researchers on whether or not the habit leads to ADHD. However, it is considered a significant enough risk factor that smoking mothers should certainly abstain while pregnant.

·         Brain Injury – It is believed by some experts that brain injury may be the cause of ADHD in a small minority of children. Toxin exposure or physical injury either before or during birth may be the culprit. It has been found that previously unaffected people can present ADHD like symptoms after a head trauma. The disorder is most likely connected to frontal lobe damage.


Although there have been great inroads to understanding ADHD in the last decade or so, researchers continue to study the disorder in the hope that understanding the causes will lead to more effective treatment. There is no cure for ADHD, however, through therapy and medication it can be successfully managed. Instead of accepting or casting blame, parents of children with ADHD should take advantage of the many resources available now to make sure that their child gets the best start on living a healthy and full life.


If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, please visit us on our site at Liahona Academy. We are a residential treatment center located in southern Utah and we specialize in helping teen boys overcome the challenges connected to living with ADHD. We are happy to answer your questions and discuss the treatment options available to you. 

Symptoms of ADHD

It is not unusual for children to have a hard time listening to instructions or getting fidgety when they are supposed to be sitting still, however, these symptoms in the extreme are also indicators of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. Because ADHD used to be misdiagnosed and misunderstood, many children with the disorder were simply labeled as troublemakers or undisciplined rather than receiving early intervention and treatment. Fortunately, researchers have made great inroads to the disorder and along with increased awareness are also increased treatment options.


In order to diagnose a child with ADHD, parents and practitioners first need to understand what symptoms set them apart from typical kids. In most cases, the signs of ADHD appear before the age of seven. The three primary characteristics of ADHD are impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. Kids with ADHD may have all three of these symptoms or they may only have one or two. The disorder is characterized by the presence of these factors for at least six months and must present in more than one situation, such as home and school.


·         Impulsivity – An impulsive ADHD child will act without thinking, such as blurting out answers during class without waiting to be called on or even hearing the whole question. Impulsivity also presents in an extreme impatience for waiting turns as well as in interrupting others frequently. An impulsive child will also have a very difficult time keeping strong emotions in check, which result in tantrums or outbursts. Children with impulsive signs are often seen as moody, disrespectful or needy.

·         Hyperactivity – Hyperactivity is the most obvious sign of ADHD. While most children are active, kids with hyperactive symptoms may try to do more than one thing at a time and constantly bounce from one activity to the next. Enforced sitting is extremely difficult and they will vent the need to still be moving by drumming fingers or shaking their legs and hands. Relaxing is difficult for children with hyperactivity signs and they often engage in excessive talking.

·         Inattentive – While hyperactivity causes kids with ADHD to bounce from project to project, inattention causes them to be unable to complete any of them. Organization and concentration is very difficult for kids who are inattentive and they may miss necessary steps in procedures if there is too much distraction around them. Children who show signs of inattentive ADHD work and play best in a calm and quiet environment. Inattentiveness also presents as appearing to listen when spoken to and frequently misplacing things.


The presence of ADHD can be very stressful for families. Many of the parenting tactics, such as grounding or taking away privileges, which are successful with typical children, are unhelpful for kids with ADHD. Parental support is considered integral for an ADHD management plan as they are the ones who provide the environment. Children with ADHD require a regular routine and a calm environment as well as a system of rewards for accomplishments. Because there is no test to determine the presence of ADHD, diagnosis mainly relies on a behavioral evaluation and patient history. Parents can ensure that their child's plan of treatment evolves as they set and reach goals.


Although ADHD cannot be cured, it can be managed with the right treatment and care. Because there are varying levels of the disorder, early intervention has the greatest chance of success. Additionally, ADHD often coexists with other disorders such as learning disabilities and anxiety or depression. Between a mix of cognitive behavior therapy and medication, children with ADHD and their parents can learn to create an environment that is mutually beneficial for future success. Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in scenic southern Utah, specializing in helping teen boys overcome  and manage the symptoms of ADHD. Liahona's experienced and highly qualified staff expect that every boy that comes to them for help will leave having gained the tools he needs to become a successful adult.


Parenting Tips for Parents of Teens with ADHD


The adolescent years can be difficult enough for parents and teens without throwing a behavioral disorder such as ADHD into the mix. Because teens with ADHD require different types of discipline and management, parents may find themselves at a loss to handle their teen's needs. Although the greatest chance for successful ADHD management comes through close supervision with a therapist who can work with both parents and teens, there are a few tips that can make the teenage years a little easier.

Provide Structure

Parenting your child with ADHD in the early years involved active behavior monitoring both at home and in the classroom. However, as your child gets older, he will want to feel more independent. Although it is not wise to leave your teen entirely to his own devices regarding homework and social life, it is important to approach these situations more respectfully than you had to when he was younger. In many ways, your teen needs you to provide structure and support just as much as he did when he was younger.

Enforce Rules

Teens with ADHD tend to have an argumentative style and his resistance to being monitored is likely to lead to a great deal of negotiation, fighting and rebelling. It may be helpful to establish four or five nonnegotiable rules on issues you feel are essential. Examples of this can include : substance abuse, driving restrictions or curfew. The nonnegotiable rules should generally apply to issues of safety and health.  Discuss the rules you have chosen with your teen and write them down in a place where your teen can refer to them if there is any question of adherence. Explain to your teen that following the most important rules will ultimately lead to more freedom. Finally, consequences for breaking the rules should be clearly stated and followed through on, to enforce consistency.

Negotiate Effectively

Parenting a teen with ADHD involves a lot of negotiation, as one of the most common symptoms is a large amount of impulsivity and an inability to wait long. Effective negotiation allows you to resolve conflicts, while respecting your teen's increasing desire for independence. Although the ultimate goal is to eventually lead your teen to a place where he can manage his own behavior, it is important for parents to use the critical teen years to establish a routine of rules and consequences for certain selective critical issues. Defining the problem is the first step to negotiation, followed by both parties contributing problem solving ideas. Once each solution is evaluated, parents and teens need to select one that they can both live with. The final step to negotiation is determining how it is going to be implemented, including the rewards for complying and the consequences for breaking the agreement.

Develop a Positive Attitude

Teens with ADHD often meet frustration, rejection and failure at school as well as their social life, making the presence of a supportive and sensitive parent that much more important. According to research, the presence of at least one supportive adult in the life of a teen with ADHD is crucial to determining future success. Make sure that you invest a healthy amount of quality time in your teen, by engaging in activities you both enjoy. Your personal connection to each other is a key factor in being able to work through the challenges your teen faces.

Maintain Personal Support

Parenting a child with ADHD can be overwhelming and exhausting. Parents need to understand that it is perfectly acceptable for them to take care of themselves in order to also care for their teen. This might come in the form of professional therapy or simply scheduled breaks. However you decide to support yourself as the parent of a teen with ADHD, understand that you will be a better parent and give your child a better chance of success if you are able to reflect as calm and centered an example as possible.

How Liahona Academy Helps Kids With ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a behavioral disorder that affecting around 8-10% of school age kids. Boys are approximately three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, although it is not yet understood why.  ADHD is characterized by a combination or hyperactivity, impulsive action and inattention, however, many kids can present only one or two of these symptoms. Although all children share these traits to some degree, kids with ADHD present these symptoms consistently over a period of six months or more, as well as in more than one setting. ADHD can impair a child's ability to function socially and academically as well as set the stage for some very difficult adolescent years. 


ADHD is not curable, but it is highly treatable. Through early intervention and a combination of medication and therapy, a child with the disorder has the best chance of learning to manage his symptoms and lead a healthy life. However, when ADHD is particularly severe or remains undiagnosed through childhood, it can present fairly severely in teens who already struggle with acceptance, self esteem, peer pressure as well as the day to day tasks requiring organization and focus. Parents of teens with ADHD may find themselves out of their element as they struggle to understand and control their child who may need more behavioral intervention than they are able to provide. Residential facilities are effective options for teens with ADHD who would benefit from being immersed in a therapeutic environment.


Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in Utah, specializing in helping teen boys with ADHD learn to recognize and manage their symptoms through a full time therapeutic approach. Boys who attend Liahona Academy are placed among counselors and therapists who understand the challenges they are facing and are dedicated to creating a personalized treatment plan for each boy based on his unique needs. Through the unique “team approach” to therapy, residents have access to not only a therapist, but also the clinical director, the academic director, the program director and a case manager. Their goal is to help each boy adhere to his treatment plan, while maintaining himself academically through their unsurpassed educational program.


The staff at Liahona Academy offers boys with ADHD an experiential treatment option, which presents the opportunity to take part in real world activities, such as leadership, community service, recreational activities and athletics. The community is fairly small, allowing residents to learn to adapt and react to daily situations within an environment that is both familiar and supportive. Boys with ADHD can practice social skills as well as support each other in recognizing triggers in themselves and others. Group therapy at Liahona Academy is a combination of special interest groups, leadership training groups, drug abuse treatment, anger management and positive peer groups. The small size of the group setting helps residents create a relationship of trust with their therapists and counselors. Private therapy is also included in most treatment plans to give each boy the opportunity to discuss issues that they may not want to share in a group setting.


If your son shows symptoms of, or has been diagnosed with ADHD, contact us at Liahona Academy (1-800-675-8101). Our trained specialists are on hand to answer your questions and concerns about ADHD as well as discuss the treatment options available to you. Your son may benefit from a full time therapeutic environment in order to help him learn to manage his symptoms successfully. Although we are located in Utah, and may not be local for you, we reside in a state that has the most comprehensive laws and regulations regarding health and safety for residential facilities. We are proud to offer a comfortable and supportive environment for every boy that comes to us. Call us today for a free consultation. 

ADHD Stats and Research

ADHD is a disorder that is being diagnosed more and more often. As teachers, parents and practitioners become more aware of what to watch for, fewer kids have to suffer through their adolescent and adult years struggling with the negative symptoms that accompany the disorder.


In the U.S.

·         As of 2011, approximately 11 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.

·         The percentage of children diagnosed increased from 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 and 11 percent in 2011.

·         At 13.2 percent, boys are statistically more likely to be diagnosed than girls at 5.6 percent.

·         7 years of age was considered average for an ADHD diagnosis, however, children with more severe versions of the disorder were reported as presenting earlier by their parents.

·         Diagnosis of ADHD varied from state to state. The lowest state was Nevada, with 5.6 percent. The highest rate reported is in Kentucky, with 18.7 percent.



·         Children between the ages of 4 and 17 taking ADHD medication increased from 4.8 percent in 2007 to 6.1 percent in 2011.

·         Compared to previous studies in 2007, more children were receiving ADHD treatment by 2011, however approximately 17.5 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD were not receiving medication or therapy as of 2011.

·         In 2011, the percent of children utilizing medication for their ADHD ranged from 10.4 percent in Louisiana to 2 percent in Nevada.


Peer Relationships and School

·         Children with ADHD report approximately 3 times as many peer problems as those without.

·         Children with ADHD are nearly 10 times as likely to have difficulties that interfere with social relationships.

·         There is an average of 1 to 3 children with ADHD per classroom of 30.

·         Emotional development for kids with ADHD is 30 percent lower than those without the disorder.

·         25 percent of kids with ADHD have learning disabilities in the area of math, listening skills or reading comprehension.

·         Listening comprehension skills are a problem for half of all ADHD students.

·         Kids with ADHD are up to three times more likely to have difficulty with expressive language.

·         21 percent of teens with ADHD regularly skip school.

·         35 percent of teens with ADHD drop out of school.

·         45 percent of teens with ADHD have been suspended at least once.

·         30 percent of teens with ADHD have has to repeat a year of school.


Family and Daily Function

·         60 percent of girls with ADHD are hyperactive as compared to 75 percent of boys.

·         40 percent of children with ADHD will have a parent or close relative with the disorder as well.

·         Sleep problems are a factor in 50 percent of children with ADHD.

·         Parents of children with ADHD are three times more likely to divorce than parents of typical children.

·         Teens with ADHD have four times as many car accidents as those without and are 7 times more likely to go on to have a second accident.

·         Children with ADHD are at higher risk for major injuries (50 percent v. 49 percent) more likely to need outpatient care (41 percent vs. 43 percent) and are also at higher risk for hospitalization (26 percent vs. 18 percent) and emergency room visits (81 percent vs. 74 percent) than non-diagnosed peers in the same age group.



·         The annual healthcare cost in the U.S. In 2000 For ADHD was approximately $31.6 billion. As it breaks down:

◦     $1.6 billion to patient treatments

◦     $12.1 billion for the additional healthcare costs associated with ADHD.

◦     $14.2 billion for healthcare costs of family members

◦     $3.7 billion for the cost of work lost by those with the disorder and adult family members of those with ADHD.


Myths of ADHD

Because Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, spent so many years being misdiagnosed and poorly researched, many myths surrounding the disorder persist. Although ADHD affects around 4 percent of all adults in the U.S. adults, it is only in recent years that it has been understood in any clinical sense. Because of this, ADHD as a disorder still needs a reasonable amount of awareness. Debunking some of the fallacies that surround the disorder is the first step.


  1. ADHD is not a “real” disorder. In actuality, ADHD is a mental disorder that includes an inherited biological component. Researchers have identified several genes that are associate specifically with ADHD, while other studies have determined that kids with ADHD have gene variations not found in typical children.
  2. You Can Outgrow ADHD. Hyperactivity is a factor common in most childhood cases of ADHD, however, this particular trait often lessens as a child grows into adulthood and learns to control it. Because of this, many believe that the disorder itself goes away, when the reality is the opposite. Adults with ADHD report feelings of constant 'inner restlessness' or need to be active or on the move. This can be very disruptive to a career or any activity in which focus is required. Therapy and medication can both do much to lessen these symptoms no matter the age of the sufferer. Symptoms may present differently in adults than they do in children, but the main problem will never go away on its own.
  3. ADHD is a disorder only for children. Although research and awareness within the last decade or so have done wonders for early diagnosis, there remain thousands of teens and adults whose ADHD remains untreated.
  4. ADHD medication leads to addiction. Most cases of ADHD are treated with a stimulant medication that allows a person to focus better. There is no research that indicates that this medication leads to addiction. In fact, studies have concluded that those who regularly take medication to treat their ADHD symptoms have a much lower rate of substance abuse than those who don't. Further, researchers studied the link between childhood and teen use of ADHD medication and adulthood substance use and found neither an increase or a decrease.
  5. ADHD is simply a catch-all excuse for bad behavior. Individuals with ADHD struggle in most aspects of their life, from school to social behavior. Overcoming the symptoms of ADHD are not a matter of simple self will or trying harder. People with the disorder process information very differently from those without it and must rely on appropriate treatment to bypass the pitfalls they encounter as a result. Because there is no cure for ADHD, those who have it have to work twice as hard as those who don't to lead an emotionally healthy life.
  6. ADHD is the result of poor parenting. Extensive research has determined that although genetics play a part in the presence of ADHD, it is not the result of a certain parenting style. Admittedly, parenting characteristics such as nagging, negativity and poor management can exacerbate the symptoms of one with the disorder, however, they are not the cause.
  7. Kids with ADHD are hyper. There are three main components that may predominate in a child with ADHD. These are: Inattentiveness, Hyperactivity and Impulsivity. Although a child with the disorder may have all three symptoms, some children present only one or two.
  8. ADHD is over diagnosed. Although schools, parents and health practitioners are getting better at recognizing the possible presence of ADHD, many children are never diagnosed or treated. It is not uncommon for parents to seek treatment after recognizing their child's symptoms in themselves.