Q: Our son has ADHD and it has a terrible impact on the rest of our family. Are there support groups for the siblings of children with ADHD? We live in Skokie, IL.
Dr. Jensen: Support groups for siblings are sometimes available, but not uniformly across the country. The best source of information on whether such groups might be available is through other parents who might be members of CHADD. You can contact CHADD chapters by going to the Web, www.chadd.org, and looking for the one closest to you. The other option would be to check with your local mental health provider given by your child's pediatrician. They may be aware of other resources for siblings of children with ADHD.
Q: Do all health insurance companies, by and large, cover ADD drugs like Ritalin? What about the behavior program you mentioned?
Dr. Jensen: Most insurance companies will cover medication such as Ritalin. Offhand, I do not know of any exceptions, but I hear from time to time from parents that their particular company may not reimburse them for ADHD medications. The situation with behavior therapy is worse. Very commonly insurance companies will set a limit on the number of therapy sessions and the intensity of behavior therapy may not be available.
Q: Why do you think there is such a controversy around ADD? Do organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics approve of drugs to treat these problems?
Dr. Jensen: The controversy has to do with the misunderstanding with ADHD and with stigma. Parents and teachers are usually blamed as being the cause: "If only you were a better parent," "if only my child had a better teacher." Many studies have been done to show that medications are both safe and effective. They are not the only treatment however, since behavior therapy has also proven effective. All of the major professional associations, such as pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, as well as independent panels set up by the federal government, have concluded that these medications are effective.
Chat Moderator: Thanks Dr. Jensen for joining us this afternoon and for sharing your expertise on ADHD.
Dr. Jensen: Thank you very much. That was a terrific set of questions and be sure to seek further information on the Web from www.nimh.nih.gov or my own center's Web site at Columbia University, www.kidsmentalhealth.org. Thank you and good luck.
Copyright © 2002. Reprinted with permission from the March 2002 issue of Child magazine.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.