Before parents glom onto the ADD diagnosis to explain their child's difficulty, they should get a comprehensive evaluation, Welch advises. That might involve a psychologist, a physician, educators and perhaps a neurologist.
Even health professionals have diagnosed ADD prematurely, she said, although this was more of a problem in the past, when the disorder was less understood.
Sometimes other ailments or side effects from medication can mimic symptoms of ADD, she said, listing allergy medication, diabetes, hypoglycemia, nutritional problems, learning disabilities, even sleep disorders. She said she has seen children with hearing problems diagnosed with ADD.
Welch, who was a school psychologist for 10 years and a teacher for six, sees two hallmarks of ADD in addition to the general symptoms of inattentiveness, impulsiveness and, sometimes, hyperactivity.
Many ADD children are disorganized in their schoolwork, forgetful and absent-minded, she said. They may also have poor social skills.
"It's almost like they have social misperceptions," she said. "They don't read body language."
* Attention Deficit Disorder--Support Organization of Simi (ADD-SOS) meets 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. the first Friday of each month at Simi Valley Hospital, 2975 Sycamore Drive. For information, call 527-9155.
* CHADD of the Conejo Valley meets 7:30 to 10 p.m. the second Friday of each month at the Thousand Oaks Library, 1401 E. Janss Road. For information, call 520-4943.
* CHADD of the Gold Coast meets 7 to 9 p.m. the third Friday of each month at Vista Del Mar Hospital, 801 Seneca St., Ventura. For information, call 649-2517.
* The Ventura County superintendent of schools office is sponsoring a free parent workshop on attention-deficit disorder under the direction of psychologist Judy Welch. The workshop, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 25, will be held at the county schools' conference facility, 550 Airport Way, Camarillo. For reservations, call 388-4215.