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Dr. Meredith Brazell, DO

Dr. Brazell is a Pediatrician at Flagler Health+ Primary Care and Pediatrics at Palencia, 120 Palencia Village Drive, Suite 107, (904) 819-3200

What should parents be looking for if they suspect their child has ADHD and what should they do if they observe these signs?

There are three different types of ADHD – inattentive, hyperactive, and then combined (inattentive and hyperactive together). Symptoms of inattentive include not paying attention to detail, difficulty organizing tasks, or avoiding tasks that require ongoing mental effort. Hyperactive ADHD can be diagnosed if the child is doing things such as leaving their seat unexpectedly, fidgeting with hands/feet constantly, or having difficulty waiting their turn. To be diagnosed, symptoms must be present both at school and at home. One thing to be cautious about is things that mimic ADHD, especially inattentive, such as anxiety, depression or even sleep deprivation. Hyperactive ADHD can also mimic conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder where a child is starting fights or lying. If there is a concern of ADHD or unknown if it is covered by other disorders, questionnaires can be given to parents, teachers and the child themselves that can help us determine if the child has any of these diagnoses. Sometimes, however, we do need the help of a psychiatrist or counselor to decipher the results. A diagnosis is needed to help decide the best treatment for that child in order to help them have the best resources that they need to succeed in school and home. Not all children with ADHD or another diagnosis will need medication but talking to their pediatrician is the best way to start an evaluation if parents have any concern.

How do I tell if my child has learning disabilities? What should I do if I suspect something?

Learning disabilities can show up in many ways. One of the most common would be if your child is struggling in school with their grades or having trouble learning. They might have problems with reading, problems with math, poor memory or trouble following directions. However, learning disabilities can also show up as behavioral problems as a child can get frustrated from not being able to complete a school task. This might even look like ADHD or anxiety/depression. If you are concerned about a learning disorder, let your physician and the school know. There are a variety of tests that can be performed, such as an IQ test that might help diagnose a disability as the reason for a behavior. There are also specialists known as Developmental Pediatricians that can also perform a variety of tests to see where there might be a disability. They are also able to see if it is due to learning or due to behavior.

How can I help my child achieve and maintain a healthy weight?

I love making healthy lifestyle choices fun and making sure the child is involved. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise are the two key components to a healthy weight. When it comes to eating healthy, I suggest eating a rainbow of colors. The child can either choose a different color each week or can go in order with the rainbow of red, orange, yellow etc. At the start of the week, have the child go to the grocery store with you and pick a snack out of that color that will replace an unhealthy snack such as chips. For example, a red week can allow the child to pick out raspberries, strawberries, apples, red pepper, and tomatoes. Eventually, the child is introduced to all the colors and then the next goal is to get several colors a day. As for exercise, have the child pick either a sport, or activity they enjoy doing. Communities usually have sports for children as young as 3 years old. Otherwise, enjoy time at the park, riding a bike (with a helmet), or walking a pet. For rainy days, try going to the library and picking out music DVDs that the child can dance to or YouTube children’s exercise videos. Make sure they are getting 60 minutes of exercise per day. This way, a child is enjoying being healthy and will make it a lifestyle change. The whole family should be involved too in order to have a good role model and not to single the child out.

Parent Magazine