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Group offers help in dealing with attention disorder

Vince and Kathy Schell say there is one rule to being the parent of a child with attention deficit disorder.

"You have to have a lot of patience," Kathy said.

"A ton of patience," Vince added.

"A saint," Kathy said.

Sometimes patience wears thin. Children with ADD or the variant ADHD _ attention deficit hyperactivity disorder _ can be loud, fidgety, forgetful, easily distracted and downright difficult.

After the Schells' 8-year-old son, Nick, was diagnosed with ADHD in February, they wanted to find someplace to discuss their feelings, have their questions answered and get information about the condition. "We didn't know where to go for help," Vince said.

That's when they found Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders, a national parental support group. At the time CHADD had chapters only in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

So they asked if they could start their own, the West Pasco CHADD, to serve residents of the North Suncoast.

"From what we can see, there's a definite need for a group like this in the area," said Vince, who works for IBM in Tampa. "It's simply amazing the amount of people who have been affected by this in one way or another."

ADD is thought to be a neurological disorder caused by altered chemistry in the brain. Treatment is usually accomplished through a combination of medication and behavioral modification.

The prospects for a successful diagnosis of the condition varies with each case. Some families may never know their child suffers from ADD. Others, like the Schells, always suspected a problem but were not sure.

"We knew since (Nick) was born," said Kathy, who is studying to be a registered nurse at Pasco-Hernando Community College. "He rarely slept through the night. He'd climb to the top of things. . . . He was just constantly in motion."

Parents and family members can receive information on how to deal with the problems of ADD at the next meeting of the West Pasco CHADD, Tuesday at 7 p.m. The meeting, at Deer Park Elementary School, 8636 Trouble Creek Road, will feature certified parenting instructor Lucinda Hudgins as guest speaker.

"She's very good at getting people to open up," Vince Schell said of Hudgins. "I want for people to interact and talk about things."

The meeting is open to the public. The chapter is open to all Pasco and Hernando county residents. For information about the meeting or the West Pasco CHADD, call the Schells at (813) 376-5658.

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