Local professionals address high rate of ADHD in Louisiana

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - A new study released by Blue Cross Blue Shield said that Louisiana has the highest rate of children between the ages two and 18 with ADHD – about 9 out of every 100 insured kids.

Leanne Louviere, a local certified pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric mental health specialist. | Photo Source: KALB

That’s a 29 percent increase between the years 2010 and 2017

Leanne Louviere, local certified pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric mental health specialist, said this increase is not due to the number of children who have ADHD, but rather because parents and doctors are more aware of the symptoms.

So, what is ADHD?

"Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder,” said Louviere. “It is specifically an issue with your dopamine level. ADHD is not just about making straight As; it's not just about being perfect. It's about quality of life."

As the school year starts, managing ADHD can be a challenge, especially in the classroom, but no child should go without the help needed to reach his or her full potential.

Cabrini offers health-based centers in many schools in Central Louisiana, providing certain free medical services to kids who might need them during the day with parental consent.

"ADHD is known for hyperactivity. But a little known fact -- that it also has a lot to do with focus,” said Joy Taylor, a licensed clinical social worker for the health-based center at Lessie Moore Elementary in Pineville. “And so our goal is to teach them how they can maintain focus in the classroom.”

But, for ADHD to be properly treated, a few things have to happen. Parents should first take note of certain behaviors they see in their children.

"Depending on the age, you may see an increased activity level, you may see a decreased detention span. Also more impulsiveness,” said Louviere. “There are other comorbidities that we see with ADHD, other than just inattention and hyperactivity. Many, many times see anxiety and depression into middle school and especially into high school."

Next, test for a potential diagnosis.

"Typically in our clinic, we get feedback from teachers, feedback from parents, and we sit down together and discuss the symptoms and the child's struggles and challenges," said Louviere.

Then, find a treatment, which doesn’t include just medication, but also therapy for anxiety and depression that might accompany ADHD.

"I've talked to people that have told me that if they did not treat their ADHD, they would've never finished high school, they would've never went to college, they would have never become a nurse, an engineer or a doctor," said Louviere.

And a message to parents who might be scared to have their child tested, diagnosed, or share their child’s diagnosis with teachers or doctors:

"Open communication with the teachers is important,” said Taylor. “Sometimes, parents don't want teachers to know that their child is ADHD, because they're afraid that their child will be labeled. But it's impossible for the teachers to help their child if they don't know what's going on."

"You come to a point where you ask yourself, ‘Am I doing my child a favor by not addressing it, by not treating it?’” said Louviere. “And you have to remember, too, you’re not always starting with medication. There are other ways to treat inattention."

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