ADD/ADHD: Parent Support Groups

Coping With ADD. p.3

Another CHADD goal is educating members, teachers, and the general public about this disorder. "We have a professional advisory board of 21 clinicians and researchers that keeps the organization current on evidence and science [related to ADD]," says E. Clarke Ross, who became CEO of CHADD last November. The job is especially meaningful for Ross, whose son Andrew, 10, has ADHD and other disabilities.

Relying heavily on established sources like the AAP and the National Institute of Mental Health, CHADD publishes the latest on diagnoses and treatment for ADD in fact sheets, on its Web site, and through a series of publications including the glossy quarterly magazine Attention!, all of which members receive for $45 per family annually. Every CHADD chapter sponsors monthly support groups and informational meetings, choosing its own speakers and topics. Over the next few months, the Northern Virginia chapter will host speakers on diagnosis and treatment, different learning styles, summer activities, IEPs (individualized education programs, for children who receive special education services through public schools), and behavior management.

Ross says that CHADD's membership has stabilized over the past few years after more than a decade of growth. Some believe the plateau has been reached because ADD families are too stressed to add an extra responsibility. But others maintain that negative publicity has hurt the organization.

CHADD inspires passion among critics as well as supporters. Some opponents even accuse CHADD of being part of a conspiracy to label active, spunky kids as mentally ill and drug them to cover up for poor parenting and teaching.

John Breeding, Ph.D., likens CHADD to a public relations firm for drug companies. "I think the group has been largely funded by the manufacturer of Ritalin," says Dr. Breeding, an Austin,TX-based psychologist and author who does not believe in the ADD diagnosis or treating kids with psychiatric drugs.

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