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Pandemic magnifying ADHD symptoms, pediatricians say

During remote learning, more parents are noticing their child may have symptoms of ADHD.

TOLEDO, Ohio — After months of remote learning, parents and caregivers may have noticed their kids have had trouble focusing on their schoolwork.

"It’s incredibly frustrating to be home and trying to teach kids and in my experience, they don’t have any interest in learning from me," says Leigh Ann O'Neill, a mother of three.

O'Neill is like most parents struggling to teach their kids at home during the pandemic. What she didn't know at first is some of the frustration came from an underlying condition in her youngest daughter. 

"You can just tell, the wheels are constantly, the wheels are turning, the ideas are coming in her brain and it’s taking her away from school work," explains O'Neill.

It turns out, O'Neill's daughter has ADHD and experts say the pandemic has magnified symptoms.

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Mercy Health Pediatrician Dr. Kehinde Obeto says over the past year, she's seen an increase in parents believing their kids could have ADHD. "The parents get to see firsthand, what the teachers have been complaining about. And they're like, 'oh my gosh, this is really bad,'" says Dr. Obeto.

Dr. Obeto says it could be a new realization for parents or one they may have previously thought was possible and the pandemic made them sure of it. She says, "You know, sometimes it's hard for people to think about their kids having ADHD."

Dr. Obeto says students may be showing heightened symptoms because they're confined at home which brings on anxiety, making it hard to focus. She says kids are also away from accommodations in the classroom that help them focus. "Putting them in the front of the class, spacing them out, trying to get them to stay on task. They're no longer there," says Dr. Obeto.

Dr. Obeto says diagnoses are generally made between ages 6 and 12, but could come earlier. She says there are a few things that can be done, including behavior therapy and medication.

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"The difference is night and day. It actually helps," explains Dr. Obeto. "Their grades go up, they're doing well."

Dr. Obeto says if you're concerned, talk to your pediatrician. She says there's nothing to be ashamed of and intervention will make for healthier and happier kids and parents. 

She says, "They shouldn't look at it like it's something bad. I just say it's a disease and it's something that can be treated."