ADHD kids of mixed families have harder time

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ADHD kids of mixed families have harder time

Kim Min-soo is 8 years old with a Korean father and Filipino mother. Lately he has been showing signs of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Kim’s teacher says he has a hard time keeping him under control.

Kim is not alone. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of people with ADHD is increasing rapidly: from 19,000 in 2003 to 64,000 in 2009, up 236 percent.

And kids from relatively poor multiethnic families have a harder time dealing with the disorder and getting the proper medical care or attention.

“In order to minimize the possibilities of multicultural kids having ADHD, there must be some financial help and continuous attention for them,” said Song In-sook, member of the Seongnam Migrant Center in Gyeonggi,

Song said society has to find a way to improve education for these children so that they have a chance to lead the same life as normal Korean children.

Sometimes miscommunication between family members or lack of supervision exacerbate ADHD, said Yun Jeong-hye, the head manager of Ha Yeon Counseling Education Institute.

“ADHD has two main symptoms: carelessness and being overactive,” Yun said. “ADHD can be caused by unstable family environments. Many factors make the family unstable, such as the collision between different cultures, the difficulty of raising a child as social minorities and not enough communication.”

There are no definite causes of ADHD, so there is no definite cure. Yun said that while genetics play an important part in ADHD in children, having a stable home environment and caring parents are important ways of dealing with it.

“Also, they have to know and understand their partner’s cultures,” Yun said. “There should also be some financial support services for them.”

Multiethnic families in Korea are usually in the lower economic bracket and parents work in factories and construction sites. If both parents work, their children may be left alone without any stable care. As a result, some multiethnic kids can fall into the habit of getting into trouble.

According to Park Su-bin, a doctor at Seoul University Hospital, these kinds of behaviors can also be symptoms of ADHD. If a child’s symptoms get worse, he or she can also experience serious depression and difficulty getting along with others.

“Because our society is competitive, everyone only cares about his own well being; there is no caring, sharing, and helping minorities,” said Shin Young-seong, a director at the Korea Multicultural Association. “That’s why they get discriminated against.”

“There are many students in my center who need help,” said Kim So-myung, the head of the Hanam Mosaic Center, a care facility for multiethnic children. “Some of my students here have ADHD. Students with ADHD cannot sit still and concentrate on a task at hand. They run around all over the place. What they need is care and help from this cold-hearted society.”


By Suh Yoo-jin, Kim Da-eun [enational@joonang.co.kr]

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