According to the nation’s leading public health agencies, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is prevalent in 3 to 5 percent of school-age children but goes largely untreated in Latino children. Among its 40,000 patients, the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) cares for more than 4,500 children between the ages of 6 and 12. At least 90 percent of these children are of Hispanic descent, and GLFHC pediatricians and family practice physicians are seeing an increase in children showing ADHD patterns of behavior. “The lack of resources coupled with difficulty identifying and diagnosing ADHD has left many minority children in Lawrence without needed treatment,” said Dr. Terry Moran of the GLFHC. “Until recently there were no resources available to refer children for diagnosis and treatment,” added Moran.
Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the CAVU Foundation, GLFHC opened an ADHD Clinic at its Haverhill Street site to fill a major healthcare gap in the community. “Our goal is to assess, treat, and provide ongoing care to children with ADHD,” said Dr. Giovanna Romero, Child Psychologist at GLFHC. ADHD is a scientifically proven neurological brain disorder characterized by chronic inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, and it may be accompanied by learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder. While some children outgrow ADHD, about 60% continue to have symptoms into adulthood (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Report on ADHD, November, 1999).
Cultural differences, language barriers and fear of social stigma associated with ADHD often lead to children in the Latino community not being diagnosed and treated properly. “We want people in the community to understand ADHD, to know their treatment options, and to know we are here to help,” said Romero.