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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder–Related Impulsivity and Cyberbullying in Social Media

Reilly, Marie MD; Fogler, Jason PhD; Selkie, Ellen MD, MPH; Augustyn, Marilyn MD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: July/August 2016 - Volume 37 - Issue 6 - p 511–513
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000308
Challenging Case
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CASE: Sarah is a 13-year-old eighth grader who was recently diagnosed for the first time with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-inattentive type, and the family elected to treat her with behavioral interventions to help her organization and attention. She had struggled with distractibility and disorganization since the fourth grade. At home, Sarah's mother described her as “spacey” and unable to complete the morning routine without constant supervision. Over time, her mother observed that it seemed as if Sarah had given up on school.

As Sarah became an adolescent, her self-esteem suffered because of her academic struggles, and she placed increasing emphasis on her appearance, including focus on remaining thin and refusing to leave the house without makeup. It was in this context that Sarah recently posted photographs of herself in various stages of undress and/or drinking alcohol on Snapchat, a photograph-sharing application in which users can send “snaps”—photographs that disappear soon after opening. However, snap recipients can take a screenshot or photograph of the snap, thereby saving the image. For unknown reasons, Sarah's close female friend took screenshots of these provocative photographs and sent them to their classmates and Sarah's older brother.

Sarah's family contacted the police and has been working with her school to address this incident. This experience resulted in significant family stress and distrust of Sarah. For example, her mother took away her cell phone and laptop and has “grounded her” for a month from all out of school activities.

Sarah's family seeks guidance regarding teaching Sarah about using social media responsibly and preventing this from happening again. Sarah's mom comes to your urgent care session asking for help because she does not feel that Sarah has “learned her lesson.” What would you do next?

*Boston Children's Hospital, The Developmental Medicine Center;

Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI;

Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.