Parents of children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders can feel very alone.
But the fact is attention deficit and hyperactivity -- or a combination of the two -- affect about 3 to 5 percent of the world's population.
Tonight, Mental Health America of Putnam County will present "Families Living With ADHD" as part of its education series. The panel for the discussion will include Old National Trail school psychologists Charity Pankratz and Loretta Smith, South Putnam Elementary School counselor Deb Hutcheson, Ron Posthauer, who is afflicted with ADHD, and Carla Fischer, whose child has ADHD.
There will also be a question and answer session.
Smith said the majority of referrals from schools are for ADHD testing.
"The tricky thing about it is, ADHD can mimic so many other things," she said. "Usually, the symptoms start showing up before the age of 6."
Pankratz said parents are often racked with guilt when their children are diagnosed. One of their biggest worries is usually that their child will have to be put on medication.
"I think that would worry any good parent," she said. "No one wants to put their child on medicine. No good parent wants to do something that is going to alter their child's personality."
Smith said she also hears parents express that concern.
"The word I hear a lot is 'zombie,'" she said.
Pankratz said parents are usually relieved to know that medication is not the only way to treat ADHD.
"Yes, for many children the medication is effective," she said. "But there is also therapy and diet."
To determine whether or not a child actually has ADHD, testing is necessary. That testing is available at Old National Trail.
"Parents don't know sometimes if there really is a problem or if their kids are just being kids," Pankratz said. "If a mother has had three girls and now she has a little boy, she may not be sure because she's not used to how boys behave."
ADHD is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder. It is typically diagnosed during childhood, and is marked by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness and inattention. The condition is found twice as commonly in boys as in girls.
ADHD often follows children into adulthood, with 10 to 40 percent of those diagnosed in childhood still meeting diagnostic criteria when they are grown.
Tonight's program will take place at the Putnam County Museum, 1105 N. Jackson St., Greencastle, at 6:30 p.m. It is open to the public and admission is free.
For more information on this or any of MHAPC's other educational programs, call 653-3310.