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Cecile deJongh Moves Forward with ADHD Support

Nov. 26, 2008 — Fulfilling a pledge she made early last year, first lady Cecile deJongh initiated territory-wide support groups for family members of those suffering from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) before the year was out.
This week deJongh returned from the 20th annual international conference sponsored by the non-profit Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) in Anaheim, Calif., armed with information on the latest strategies and support available to treat the disease. The conference was an opportunity for parents, caregivers, health-care professionals, educators, physicians and community leaders to compare notes.
The first lady also attended a meeting of the CHADD board of directors, of which she is one of 13 members.
At a ceremony honoring her as Rotary II's 2007 Person of the Year, deJongh remarked on her mission to start a local CHADD chapter.
"There is nothing like this here," deJongh said at the time. "I am working on setting up a local chapter as a not-for-profit organization."
Since then, deJongh has established two local groups, one in each district.
DeJongh attended lectures and workshops at the conference geared toward identifying the tipping points for the disease, and heard from national experts on how to help students with ADHD.
"For family members seeking guidance and for those struggling with symptoms, there is hope," deJongh said in a news release. "The local CHADD chapters are an important resource for members of the community, and I encourage anyone with questions about the disease, to join us. ADHD affects people differently, and not every treatment is right for everyone. That is why it is so important to seek care by a doctor or clinic for a proper diagnosis."
What is ADHD? It is "a biological, brain-based condition that is characterized by poor attention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors," according to Dr. Keath Low, psychologist and clinical scientist with the Center for Development and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Medical School. "It is one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children. Symptoms can continue into adolescence and adulthood. If left untreated, ADHD can lead to poor school/work performance, poor social relationships and a general feeling of low self-esteem."
In th release, deJongh highlighted the impact of the conference.
"While there are millions of Americans and thousands of Virgin Islanders affected by ADHD, with proper diagnosis, treatment is available," she said. The disorder can be "difficult to diagnose, and those affected are oftentimes in denial about their own symptoms."
The first lady said she recognizes these challenges, and acknowledges that a refusal or inability to accept one's ADHD can have a dramatic and profound effect on one's life, and on the lives of family members.
DeJongh urges anyone with questions to seek the help now available in the local chapters by contacting Raul Carrillo on St. Thomas at 693-4354 or Lisa Seaman on St. Croix at 773-1404, or by emailing vichadd@yahoo.com to get meeting locations and updates.
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