An Etiologic Assessment of ADHD and Trauma

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Article No : stemac-v1-1002
Pollie Bith-Melander, Sharon May and Lesleigh H. F


This research focused on recognition the difference between trauma and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children and youth in an urban school environment. The objective of this exploratory research was to gain a deeper understanding of the current challenges and barriers relating to assessments and treatments of children with a history of trauma and a putative diagnosis of ADHD. This research study reviewed a representative sample of qualitative observations made by clinicians who worked with children in urban school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. In addition, we assessed secondary information of hand-written notes from past clinicians who previously worked in these same schools. We utilized reflexivity (researcher’s views/experiences) methods and framed within an evolutionary perspective, specifically the concept of the flight-freeze response to violence; this perspective offers us insight into how we as human beings react and respond to threats and violence in our lives. We concluded that among our sample, a significant portion of those diagnosed with ADHD had past trauma and trauma symptoms, and that there was noticeable overlap of symptoms that could be attributed to either ADHD or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This screening for trauma is critical for matters relating to the development of effective and appropriate interventions. We believe that conducting past family histories, and specifically conducting assessments of any history of past trauma, may help reduce the likelihood of misdiagnosing and may assist in being able to administer more effective treatments.

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