Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-formerly known as ADD- has become a buzzword within recent years. It affects up to 5% of all children and can result in disruptions at home and in the classroom. But what is it? And could your child have it?
ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a behavioral condition that makes focusing on everyday requests and routines challenging.– American Psychological Association
Both children and adults, males and females can have ADHD. There is no known cause of ADHD. It is important for parents to know this, as they often blame themself, thinking they have caused the disorder. Several theories exist, including the roles of genetics (family members who also have the disorder), brain injury, nutrition and the environment. Risk factors also include exposure to toxic substances (such as drugs and alcohol) during pregnancy.
There are three types of ADHD; Inattentive, Hyperactive and Combined. The type of ADHD diagnosed is dependent on the symptoms experienced. In children, symptoms can include the following:
•Misses details and makes careless mistakes
•Is unable to organize tasks and activities
•Has difficulty following through on instructions and completing assignments
•Gets bored with a task after only several minutes
•Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
•Is easily distracted
•Often loses toys, school supplies or anything necessary for a particular task
•Is often forgetful
•Avoids, dislikes or hesitates to participate in activities that require continuous mental effort (e.g., homework)
•Fidgets or squirms in seat
•Leaves his or her seat when it isn’t appropriate
•Runs or climbs when it isn’t appropriate (in adults, this might be restlessness)
•Frequently has difficulty playing or participating in activities quietly
•Often acts like he or she is “on the go” or “driven by a motor”
•Blurts out answers before questions are completed
•Has a tough time awaiting his or her turn
•Interrupts others (e.g., disrupts a conversation or game)
While these behaviors are seen in many children at some point, the child with ADHD displays these symptoms at a more severe and pervasive level than others. Teachers may express genuine concern over the child’s behavior at school, or parents may experience growing frustration in parenting the child. You may ask yourself; How is your child doing in school? Are there any problems with learning that you or your child’s teachers have seen? Is your child happy in school? Is your child having problems completing class work or homework? Are you concerned with any behavior problems in school, at home, or when your child is playing with friends?
Although teachers are often the first to notice symptoms in a child, ADHD cannot be diagnosed by them. Parents should have their child evaluated by a pediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist. Evaluations typically include reviewing the child’s medical, social and educational history and can include an assessment of the child’s intellectual functioning.
Without proper treatment, the child may fall behind in schoolwork, and friendships may suffer. The child experiences more failure than success and is criticized by teachers and family who do not recognize a health problem.-American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Treatment may include medication meant to improve attention/focus, therapy or a combination of both. Changes to the classroom (e.g. increased time allowances on tests) and the home environment may also be recommended in order to accommodate the child’s difficulties. ADHD in children typically continues into their adulthood, so it is important for these children to learn how to live with the disorder. Parents can work with health care providers to ensure their children receive the tools they need to manoeuver their world.
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