ADHD family support group begins at Maxwell



by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs


3/21/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Raising children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, can be more than one or even two parents can handle, and the Maxwell community is available to help.

A new lunch-and-learn support group for families raising a child or children with ADHD will meet first Wednesday of the month. Locations will vary.

Those with ADHD, most commonly diagnosed in young children, experience an abnormally high level of inattentiveness, over activity, impulsiveness, anxiety or stress. Many children with ADHD struggle to pay attention in school or finish homework, are easily distracted, find it difficult to remain still or are prone to fidgeting and excessive outbursts. A cause for such behavior is unknown, though there are resources at Maxwell to help families cope with such tendencies.

However, professionals say one of the best ways for families to garner information and results quickly is through networking with other parents and sharing resources, critiques and encouragement.

Such engagements allow parents to exchange helpful tips and treatments that may have worked for their child, areas in which they still struggle and suggestions on how they can help others.

"There are a lot of resources out there on ADHD, but having a network of parents to call on for advice does more good in a short amount of time. It's invaluable," said Master Sgt. Erin Panas, parent of a young son diagnosed with ADHD.

In September, after attending an ADHD class hosted by the A&FRC, Panas and a co-worker began comparing their situations at home as they raised their young boys. Through word-of-mouth, the group has grown to include 11 other families.

Marie Hixon, personal work-life consultant for the A&FRC, and Panas hope to coordinate an ADHD support group to meet monthly for lunch, alternating between Maxwell and Gunter Annex locations.

Psychologists, teachers, A&FRC personnel and family advocacy will also be scheduled to attend the meetings to discuss research and tips on how to positively cooperate with an ADHD child. Randy Stokes, the school liaison officer, will act as the parents' advocate when issues arise at the school regarding ADHD accommodations in the classroom.

"An arsenal of tools is what we want this group to be able to offer to parents," said Hixon. "The more parents and professionals we bring into the group, the more tools we're going to have to help loved ones understand and cope with their children with ADHD."

Also planned for the families will be free or low-cost events scheduled bi-monthly by the ADHD Family Support Network, where parents and children will be able to enjoy picnics, trips to the park, museum visits or the zoo.

For more information contact Hixon at 953-2353 or Panas at 416-4309.