The 5-year-old was often too restless to absorb his lessons, his attention span was short and he was struggling to keep up with his classmates. He didn’t know his letters or his numbers – milestones that should be reached by his age – and he couldn’t write his name.
“It wasn’t that he was misbehaving in class, he just couldn’t comprehend what the teacher was telling him,” his mother, Laura said.
Referred to a School-based Health Center for Testing
When the teacher referred Lisandro to get tested for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the Memorial Hermann Hogg Health Center at his campus, Laura and her husband were hesitant at first. They had noticed Lisandro’s inability to focus as early as pre-kindergarten, but ADHD wasn’t a condition with which they were familiar.
“In our culture, ADHD is not something anyone ever talks about so my husband and I had a lot of questions for the clinic staff,” Laura said. “But they were so patient with us and went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. It was obvious how much they cared about my son. By the end of that first meeting, my husband and I were both on board with the diagnosis and the treatment plan.”
ADHD is a brain disorder that can severely impact a child’s ability to learn. That’s why Memorial Hermann Health Centers for Schools has developed a comprehensive and coordinated approach to diagnose and treat children with ADHD as early as possible to help them be able to refocus their attention on school and achieve successes in the classroom.
Doing Better in School Starts with Feeling Better
Through the Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corporation, Memorial Hermann operates 10 school-based clinics throughout the Greater Houston region, serving 72 schools across five school districts. Each Memorial Hermann Health Centers for Schools’ clinic is staffed by a nurse practitioner/physician assistant, licensed clinical social worker and a licensed vocational nurse with oversight provided by an affiliated physician. Along with essential medical services, the clinics also offer mental health services, including treatment and therapy for ADHD. Addressing the mental health needs of children fosters a healthy sense of emotional wellbeing and allows them to better focus on their education and academics.
“Helping ADHD children to thrive academically and socially is the most rewarding thing I do,” said Dr. Danuta Blicharski, pediatrician and medical director at Memorial Hermann Hogg Health Center.
Dr. Blicharski diagnosed Lisandro with ADHD and started him on a treatment regimen and it wasn’t long before the family noticed an improvement.
“One day, he brought home a sheet of paper with his name written so clearly,” Laura said. “It meant the world to me.”
Lisandro’s diagnosis ended up being a blessing in disguise for his brothers, too. The school-based clinics typically form relationships with entire families in their care, and after beginning Lisandro on his ADHD treatment plan, the Hogg clinic staff quickly noticed that his older brothers also appeared to be showing indications that they also had the same condition, which is thought to be hereditary.
Laura said she never would’ve thought her other children also had ADHD because their symptoms were so dramatically different than those in their younger brother.
“My oldest son, Lazaro, was doing really well in school but he could never sit still,” she said. “He would complete his assignments quickly but then he would have a hard time staying in his seat. My other boy, Leandro, was an average student but he had a problem controlling himself in the classroom.”
Seeing a Dramatic Turnaround in the Classroom
Dr. Blicharski started both boys on their own tailored ADHD treatment plans and the results were dramatic. Lazaro, 10, was able to refocus his attention on his lessons and thrive in the classroom. He began earning straight As and quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the top students in the fifth grade at his school.
“He does math at the level of a ninth-grader now,” Laura said. “He only missed two questions on his standardized test.”
Leandro is performing equally well, earning As and Bs and reading at levels well beyond his grade. Both sons are in the gifted-and-talented program.
“It’s fantastic to see the energy and drive they put into school once they realize their own potential,” Dr. Blicharski said.
Laura said she is incredibly grateful to Dr. Blicharski and the clinic staff for showing compassion for her children and helping them excel.
“Treating their ADHD has really made a difference,” Laura said. “I can’t say enough good things about Dr. Blicharski and the clinic as a whole. It’s so obvious that they really care about my kids and my family. When it comes to making sure they are doing well in school, we really are a team.”
For more than 20 years, Memorial Hermann Health Centers for Schools have provided a stable medical home for uninsured and underinsured children from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Learn more about the services they offer.