Diagnosis: ADHD—or Is It Trauma? Hyperactive, yes. Attention problems, check. But it’s not ADHD. By Maia Szalavitz for MSN Health & Fitness When Dawn adopted her 7-year-old nephew, Dylan (not their real names), she expected a difficult initial adjustment. The 51-year-old Wisconsin homemaker, who is married to an attorney, has 10 children—eight adopted, two biological—and jokes that her occupation is “laundry.” She knew that Dylan had been starved and neglected by his cocaine-addicted mother. But what Dawn didn’t expect was for her nephew to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. “He was climbing the walls,” she says. “He couldn’t even sit still to eat.” At school, he wasn’t learning because he was in constant motion. Dawn suspected that Dylan’s main problem wasn’t really ADHD. Her pediatrician wanted him evaluated and suggested medication. “It was tempting,” she says, but “I had a gut feeling I should wait.” Dawn believed that her nephew’s inattention and over-activity were linked instead to his disrupted parental relationships and chaotic early experience. Identifying trauma Dawn’s maternal intuition about the effects of trauma on attention is increasingly backed by science. “The big problem is that people just don’t identify trauma in kids,” says Claude Chemtob, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York City, who recently published a study of children who were attending preschools near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Though we tend to think of traumatic experiences as rare, in fact, by age 16, seven of 10 children have been exposed to at least one potentially traumatic event—such as a natural disaster, severe car accident, child abuse or the loss of close family member—according to a study of a representative sample of more than 1,400 children living in North Carolina published in 2007. http://health.msn.com/health-topics/adhd/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100191637>1=31001 As you read the article, keep in mind the experiences of Afreekan Descendents past and current in amerikkka and beyond. M.E.