God, Children, &
ADHD
         God, Children, & ADHD by Sharon Sitler, M.A.

How could God, children and ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) possibly fit together? What is
ADHD or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)? First, let me begin by saying that children who have ADHD or
ADD are usually very, very bright children. But, we do know that this disorder is genetic and that children
and adults who have this are lacking the adequate level of certain chemicals in their brain to be able to
focus. Both of these disorders are characterized by being easily distracted or a lack of inattention in
certain areas. One explanation of this disorder is that it is like trying to drink out of a fire hose. In other
words, so much information is coming at the individual at one time that they lack the ability to decipher it
or to slow it down and properly sort it out. The difference between ADHD and ADD is that ADHD also
carries with it hyperactivity and impulsivity. For children, I’ve seen this disorder show up as early as pre-K
with often very violent and inappropriate behaviors. A really good resource for this disorder is a book
called Driven to Distraction by Hallowell. And, a really good website is Daniel Amen’s material on ADD at
amenclinics.com.  There is also an online test located at the website.  

The disorder often becomes more evident when children start attending school and struggle with
inattention in the classroom and an inability to complete their work. If the disorder is not evident by pre-K
or Kindergarten, then it frequently shows up around 4th or 7th grade. In boys, the disorder is generally
easy to diagnose because boys tend to have more behavioral problems if they have ADHD (this is the
case for a few girls as well). ADD, however is often missed in school age boys and girls, especially in
girls. Thankfully, if the ADHD or ADD is severe enough we have medications that compensate for the lack
of chemicals in the brain. These medications help children focus long enough to do their classroom work
or homework and also help with their forgetfulness.

How do you know if your child needs medication if they have ADHD or ADD? A general guideline for
school age children is to look at discipline problems and grades. If there are a lot of behavioral problems
and/or poor grades, then you may want to consult with the school counselor and your child’s physician or
a child psychiatrist. Testing for this disorder can also be done by a qualified psychologist. And, the good
news is that many licensed counselors work very successfully with this disorder utilizing different types of
play therapy and therapeutic games such as “Stop, Relax and Think.” But, not all children who have this
disorder need medication. Some children can “train their brain” to focus and stay on task through skills
learned in play therapy.

On the other hand, I have also seen dramatic and wonderful changes in children due to medication. The
severity of the disorder really does determine the need for medication. With a child on medication, the
child can be normalized and no one would even know that the child has a disorder. As with any mental
diagnosis, this disorder can be misdiagnosed and is often over-diagnosed. Sometimes, an
inappropriate response to behavioral problems may be putting a child on medication rather than getting
to the root of the problem. Sadly, this disorder used to be lumped together with mental retardation, even
though we know today that these children are usually very bright. Fortunately, we know enough about this
disorder today where that is no longer the case.

So, where does God fit into all of this? Unfortunately, we can’t answer why God allows some children and
adults to suffer from this disorder. Why does God allow some people to suffer from diabetes, blood
disorders, kidney problems, hideous birth marks, etc.? What we do know is that God has blessed us with
medications that help tremendously with this disorder when children are at a more severe level. I believe
that God has given us qualified physicians for a reason and that we need to take advantage of their
expertise.