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Social media seen as key to connecting parents of ADHD children

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It’s a condition some in this country still don’t think is real — or at least dismiss as widely overdiagnosed.

New York Times columnist Judith Warner was in that group before doing research for her book, “We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.” But her work showed just the opposite: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder affects at least 5% of the population in the U.S. and is not treated nearly enough.

Warner readily admits the media has created a public misperception about ADHD, writing it off to laziness, poor parenting or belligerence, which has made it hard for those suffering with the condition to not be relegated to the outskirts of society.

Perhaps public perception is starting to change, though there is still a way to go. Social media may play a key role in combating one of this disorder’s biggest culprits — a lack of information — according to ADHD support advocate Michele Novotni. Social tools represent a way to help rally those who think their children may have the disorder or who may be dealing with the disorder themselves, she says.

While Novotni relied on meeting other parents in groups while raising a child with ADHD, she says social media can play a key role in connecting parents with one another and with experts.

Novotni holds a doctorate and works as a counselor with 25 years of experience helping those with ADHD — whether they be children or adults. She’s put social tools to use helping others, writing e-books and holding online seminars.

“There’s a way to get information out to people we never could before,” Novotni said Sept. 16 during the “Fact or Fiction: ADHD in America” event in the Rayburn House Building in Washington, D.C.

Novotni said she’s been looking at Twitter and Facebook as ways to get correct and helpful information out to those who need it the most.

“I want it accessible to people at all levels,” she said in an interview after an expert-panel discussion at the event. “A lot of people just can’t afford the people they need to help.”

The event was headlined by actress Roxy Olin, who shared her story of going through multiple tutors as a child and coping with her disorder — often without the help she needed. She echoed the thoughts of those on the panel who believed that greater awareness about the condition is still needed.

“There needs to be easy access to tools for dealing with this disorder,” she said.

Image credit: mammamaart, via iStockphoto