When a child’s day brings tantrums, panicked mania or dark spells, he or she could be suffering from something much deeper than an attention-deficit problem. It could be juvenile-onset bipolar disorder, a psychological condition that causes recurring attacks of depression and hyperactivity.
Experts believe that 1 million American children live with some form of bipolar disorder, according to the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation. In most, the condition is marked by abrupt mood swings, periods of hyperactivity followed by lethargy, intense temper tantrums, frustration and defiant behavior.
Despite the wide-reaching effects, many sufferers do not receive the medical attention that could help them. Often, the disorder is misdiagnosed as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a common behavioral problem characterized by distraction and impulsiveness.
To inform professionals and members of the community about the special needs of bipolar children, University of the Pacific is hosting a symposium Sept 15 and 16, 2006. The event, “Juvenile-Onset Bipolar Disorder: Under-Diagnosed, Under-Treated, Under Discussion,” will feature presentations from educators, pharmacologists and psychiatrists.
The symposium sponsored by Pacific’s Bernerd School of Education and the Diablo Behavioral Health Neuroscience Seminars is open to the public. Registration is required and space is limited. Topics covered will include psychology and environment, pharmacology and proper treatment of the disorder.
Children taking the wrong medication are often unintentionally set up for a lifetime of failure, said Michael Elium, director of special education for University of the Pacific. He will participate in the symposium.
“Quite frequently, they’ll be diagnosed as having ADHD because it looks like that’s what they’ve got,” Elium said. “The question is, how do we serve these children?”
Other participants will include keynote speakers Demitri and Janice Papolos, authors of the book “The Bipolar Child,” and Dr. Robert Hendron, president-elect of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
William Kehoe, a professor of pharmacology practice and psychology at Pacific, said medication is often a key part of a child’s treatment. He noted that, while there are many medications available, the scientific world is still trying to figure out the effects they might have on a child’s developing cognition.
The symposium, Kehoe added, will hopefully give community members some much-needed information. “They’ll come away knowing this disorder, that there are more children with it than we thought and there are things we can do for them,” he said.
- What Disorders Are Linked to ADHD?
- What if Someone You Know Has ADHD?
- Diagnosing ADHD/ADD in Adults
- An Introduction to Attention Deficit Disorder
- Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar Risk Factors
- What Is Attention Deficit Disorder?
- Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder
- What Causes Attention Deficit Disorders?
- Who Gets Bipolar Disorder?