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#ChildrensMentalHealthWeek: What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Children’s Mental Health Week

Day 4

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of most prevalent psychiatric disorders among children in the US. It is being diagnosed at increasing rates, and according to the CDC, about one in 9 children is diagnosed with ADHD in the country. The prevalence rates are even higher in Louisiana. As a neurodevelopmental disorder, symptoms of ADHD impair functioning in multiple settings such as home, school, and social interactions.

As the name implies, the primary symptoms of ADHD include deficits in attention, problems with hyperactivity and impulsivity. However, there may be additional impairments with executive functions such as working memory, organization, motivation, activation, effort, and emotional regulation. Children with untreated ADHD may present to primary care offices with complaints of disruptive behavior, academic failure, and poor frustration tolerance. In fact, there are many comorbidities to consider when assessing ADHD including learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, trauma or stress-related issues, sleep deprivation, or other behavior disorders (Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ODD).

These children may benefit most from screening and diagnosis that involves a collaborative approach between health care providers, parents/caregivers, and school staff, and a comprehensive evaluation that addresses medical, developmental, educational, and psychosocial factors to identify the most appropriate interventions. Research indicates that the most effective treatment for ADHD is the combination of psychopharmacological and behavioral interventions.

AT CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, WE HAVE A TEAM OF MEDICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS WHO HAVE SPECIALIZED TRAINING AND EXPERTISE IN DIAGNOSING AND TREATING ADHD IN ADDITION TO OTHER BEHAVIORAL AND EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCES INCLUDING ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, AND ODD. THE MEDICAL PSYCHOLOGY CLINIC (MPC) IS LOCATED AT THE STATE STREET CAMPUS OF CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. THE MEDICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS AT THE MPC COLLABORATE WITH AND RECEIVE REFERRALS FROM LOCAL PEDIATRICIANS OR OTHER PHYSICIANS BOTH WITHIN AND OUTSIDE OF THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL NETWORK. AT THE MPC, PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS ARE CONDUCTED TO ASSIST WITH DIAGNOSTIC CLARIFICATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TREATMENT.

For referrals to the MPC, please contact the Intake Coordinator, Nina Keiser, at (504) 896-7272.

MICHELLE NIEMEIER, PHD, MP

Dr. Michelle Niemeier is a medical psychologist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Dr. Niemeier earned her PhD in educational psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She completed a predoctoral internship in clinical psychology at The Astor Home for Children in New York, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Children’s Hospital New Orleans in pediatric psychology. Dr. Niemeier later earned a postdoctoral master’s degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology and subsequently has been practicing medical psychology for the past 5 years. With more than 19 years of experience as a clinical psychologist, she continues to practice because she loves working with children, adolescents, and their families in her hometown of New Orleans and providing services that help improve their functioning and the overall quality of their lives. Dr. Niemeier’s little something extra is that she is a proud breast cancer survivor, a former member of the Big Easy Rollergirls, and a member of The Leijorettes, a subkrewe of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus in tribute of Princess Leia!

FUN FACTS ABOUT DR. NIEMEIER
  • Former Big Easy Rollergirl
  • Member of the Leijorettes (a subkrewe of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus)-think Princess Leia in majorette boots
  • Subkrewe Captain of Krewe of House Floats
  • Hobbies: yoga and roller skating
  • Love to travel and attend live music events and festivals

 

MAYLING WALKER, PHD, MP

Dr. Mayling Walker is a medical psychologist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. She earned her doctoral degree in psychology and a master’s in clinical Psychopharmacology at Alliant International University in Queens, New York. With more than 15 years of experience, Dr. Walker helps children function up to their greatest potential, valuing patient relationships as the foundation of any successful intervention. Her little something extra is that she is bilingual in English and Spanish, giving her the skills to help both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking families.

FUN FACTS ABOUT DR. WALKER
  • Native Spanish-speaker
  • Avid runner
  • Completed the New York City Marathon
  • Board President of Confetti Kids, a local nonprofit, community-based organization
  • Loves to travel and explore new cuisines and cultures