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Diagnosis and Treatment

August 09, 1995|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

"People with ADD usually know that they are not flakes but that there is something wrong with them inside. But they appear irresponsible to others," says psychologist Joan Andrews.

It takes a full evaluation, beginning with a history, to diagnose attention deficit disorder.

When experts diagnose ADD, they look for a variety of symptoms. A person with ADD does not necessarily have all of these symptoms:

* impulsiveness

* poor memory

* extreme distraction

* short attention span

* difficulty maintaining attention

* inability to stay in relationships or at jobs

* difficulty beginning and completing tasks

* depression

* mood swings

* sleep difficulty

* hyperactivity/hypoactivity

temper flare-ups

* disorganization

* inability to complete tasks

* low stress tolerance

* trouble with the law

* impulsive spending

* drug and alcohol abuse

Coping strategies

In addition to medication, coping techniques help the individual with ADD. Some of those are:

* Clumping. People with ADD are often disorganized. To cope, they should gather everything they will need for a project before they begin. An example would be of a person who starts to pay bills but realizes he doesn't have any stamps. A person with ADD will probably forget to complete the job after the interruption, Andrews says.

* Setting deadlines. Setting their own deadlines gives people with ADD the energy and motivation they need to start and complete projects.

* Eliciting help of others. If a person with ADD hasn't been able to get started on a project, she can call a friend to help her get moving.

* Creating a coping system. People with ADD can create a system that caters to their needs. Many people with ADD get lost, so they should have maps at hand. Most have a hard time remembering; a hand-held pocket tape recorder can help remind them.

* Following a specific routine. Routines help the person with ADD feel less confused and more able to complete a task.

Support groups

ADD Adult Support groups meet in Newport Beach at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month and at 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. There is a $5 fee.

Every Monday, beginning Sept. 11, there will be a class at 7 p.m. on specific topics regarding ADD, including an overview of ADD, medications, relationships, clutter control, coping skills and depression. The first Monday of the month is free; other Mondays are $5.

The groups meet at 1200 Quail St., No. 105, Newport Beach. Call (714) 476-0991 for information.

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