Attention Deficit Disorder


Children and young people often seem like they’re in their own little worlds, but when is their lack of attention a problem? Colleen Copelan, MD, a board-certified child, and adolescent psychiatrist, diagnoses attention deficit disorder (ADD) and offers personalized treatment at her practice in Camarillo, California. Call the office today to schedule a consultation if your child’s inattentiveness is interfering with their life.

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What is ADD?

Attention deficit disorder or ADD is a disabling, underdiagnosed condition that interferes with your child’s ability to focus or pay attention. ADD can interfere with your child’s confidence, social development, and academic success. When left untreated, the symptoms intensify and can persist into adulthood.
You might hear ADD and ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) used interchangeably. ADD doesn’t cause hyperactive behaviors, but is still disruptive to your child’s ability to thrive. 

Psychiatrists like Dr. Copelan usually diagnose ADD in children and adolescents, although young adults also have the condition. They might develop a new condition, or their symptoms might become more apparent later in life.

For example, a child might be able to cope with ADD during elementary and high school, but when they go to college with a less structured schedule, their coping mechanisms fail. 

What are the signs that my child has ADD?

ADD causes inattentive symptoms, including:

Easily distractible

Forgetful or absentminded

Poor attention to detail

Struggles to follow instructions

Poor time management

Poor organization

Doesn’t finish schoolwork or chores

Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort

Misplaces items like homework, shoes, or sport uniforms

ADD symptoms range in severity, and your child might not have the same symptoms as one of their peers or siblings.

ADD can lead to other mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. When untreated, ADD can interfere with your child’s ability to succeed academically and socially, limiting their potential.

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When should I talk to a doctor about my child’s ADD symptoms?

Some children are dreamy or easily distracted. However, if their inattentiveness interferes with their lives, it’s time to seek help.

For example, if your child’s grades decline or they withdraw from their friends, these behavioral changes could indicate an issue. Your child might also become reluctant to go to school or recreational and social activities.

How do you treat ADD?

Dr. Copelan begins with a comprehensive assessment of your child’s mental, emotional, and physical health, screening for ADD symptoms. Following your child’s diagnosis, Dr. Copelan creates a treatment plan to help your child. She often combines medicine, therapy, and lifestyle modifications to relieve and control ADD.
Medication can regulate your child’s brain chemistry and relieve their symptoms. Then, during therapy, they practice techniques to improve their focus and stay on task. They also learn organizational and time management skills.

Your child might also benefit from setting a structured routine, with time set aside for different activities. Dietary adjustments and daily physical activity also often help relieve symptoms and enhance your child’s overall health.

Call Colleen Copelan, MD, today if your child has ADD symptoms that interfere with their quality of life.