#ChildHealth: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex mental health disorder that can affect a child, especially in attention span and level of activity. It can have a major impact on the child’s success in school, on their outlook on life and their interpersonal relationships. The symptoms of ADHD vary and are sometimes difficult to recognize as many of the symptoms are within the normal range for children to experience. Many  children with ADHD struggle with symptoms such as hyperactivity, behavior issues, disorganization, anger, and poor social skills. It is however very important to remember that children with ADHD aren’t lazy or less intelligent than other children. The good news is that ADHD is a very treatable condition. And in fact, all kids with ADHD can succeed if they get the help they need.

3 Types of ADHD in Children

Symptoms of ADHD may classified into the following three types:

  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type: This is the most common form of ADHD. Children with this type of ADHD show all three symptoms.
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type: Children show both hyperactive and impulsive behavior, but for the most part, they are able to pay attention.
  • Predominantly inattentive type: This is formerly called attention deficit disorder (ADD). These children are not overly active. They do not disrupt the classroom or other activities, so their symptoms might not be noticed

ADHD: What Is The Cause?

The exact cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not known. There are evidences that it may run in families. And sometimes it is assumed to be environmental and sometimes nutritional. Exposure of the growing brain to toxic substances may predispose the child to ADHD. Ongoing research seeks to find the specific genes that may predispose a person to ADHD.

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

There is no specific or definitive test for ADHD. A diagnosis of ADHD is made by evaluating the child under several criteria. A child may be diagnosed with ADHD if the child has shown six or more specific symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity on a regular basis for more than 6 months in at least two settings. ADHD is generally diagnosed in childhood, sometimes in teenagers.

ADHD: Symptom In Kids

ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. Children with ADHD typically show signs of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. Characteristically children with ADHD are in constant motion; they squirm and fidget; they do not seem to listen; they have trouble playing quietly; they often talk excessively; they interrupt or intrude on others; they are easily distracted and have problems finishing tasks

Emotional Turmoil. They have difficulty keeping emotions, both good and bad, in check; hence the outbursts of anger or temper tantrums

Fidget and Squirm. They can’t sit still; they may try to get up and run around or fidget or squirm in their chair when forced to sit.

Unfinished Tasks. Even when they show interest in lots of different things, they often have problems seeing them through to the end.

Lack of Focus. They may have trouble paying attention, even when you speak to them directly. They’ll say they heard you, but won’t be able to repeat back to you what you just said.

Careless Mistakes. They also have difficulty following instructions that require planning or executing a plan. This can then lead to careless mistakes.

Day Dreaming. Sometimes, children with ADHD are quieter and less involved than the other kids. They may just stare into space, daydreaming, and ignore what’s going on around them.

(A checklist for ADHD symptoms in kids may also be seen below)

Treatment for Childhood ADHD

ADHD is a very treatable condition.

Drugs for Children With ADHD: A class of drugs called psychostimulants (‘stimulants’) is a highly effective treatment for childhood ADHD. These medicines help children focus their thoughts and ignore distractions. ‘Non-stimulant’ medications are also helpful in children. It is important to work with a doctor to find the  solution that is best for your child.

Behavioral Treatments for Children With ADHD: Behavioral treatment for children with ADHD includes creating more structure, encouraging routines, and clearly stating expectations of the child. others include Social skills training, support groups and parenting skills training. 

Parenting A Child With ADHD

Raising a child who has ADHD isn’t easy. Most parents are “good” parents, at least in their own rights. Parenting is fun and a lot easier when your child listens and has the ability to sit still. But if your son or daughter has attention deficit disorder, with hyperactivity, being a “good parent” may not be good enough. To ensure that your child is happy and well-adjusted now and in the future,  to create a peaceful an a tranquil home environment, and to maintain your own sanity as a parent, you’ve got to be a “great” parent.

I found a few helpful tips for parents who have one or more children with ADHD. The same may apply for parents whose children are struggling in some aspects of their development.

1. Accept the fact that your child is imperfect. Yes, it starts by coming to terms with the reality that your children are different. It’s not easy to accept that there’s something not quite “normal” about your child. But a child who feels his parents’ acceptance and optimism about his prospects despite his seeming disability is more likely to develop good self-esteem and can-do spirit he needs to become a happy, well-adjusted adult.

2. Don’t believe all the “bad news” about your child. It’s no fun to hear school teachers and other school employees describe your child as “slow” or unmotivated. But don’t let negative remarks deter you from doing everything in your power to advocate for his educational needs. After all, kids with ADD can succeed if they get the help they need.

3. Don’t overestimate the importance of medication. There’s no doubt that, for many children with ADHD, the right medication makes a huge difference in behavior.

4. Make sure you know the difference between discipline and punishment. Parents who has children with ADHD are often frustrated because when it comes to correcting and disciplining the child, apparently nothing is working. “I’ve yelled, lectured, threatened, given time-outs, taken away toys, canceled outings, bribed, begged, and even spanked — and nothing works!”

Punishment certainly has its place. However, it should never involve physical or verbal abuse, and it should be used only as a last resort. For example, if your child continues to do dangerous pranks despite being repeatedly told not to, he should be punished. Often, the best way to discipline an ADD child is via a simple program of behavior modification: Define age-appropriate, attainable goals and then systematically reward each small achievement until the behavior becomes routine. By rewarding positive behavior (rather than punishing negative behavior), you help your child feel successful and further increase his motivation to do the right thing. Never punish a child for behavior that he is unable to control and be careful to separate the deed from the doer.

5. Pay more attention to your child’s positive behavior. In their quest to quash behavior problems, many parents overlook all the positive ways in which their child behaves. The resulting negativity can cast a pall over the household that affects every aspect of life. Train yourself to look at the positives. Catch your child being good or doing something well, and praise him, or her. When you point out and praise desirable behaviors, you teach them what you want, not what you don’t want.

Appendix

The ADHD Test: A Checklist for ADHD Symptoms in Kids

Part One: The Hyperactive/Impulsive type

  1. Sometimes my child acts as if she/he is driven by a motor.
  2. My child always seems to be fidgeting.
  3. No matter how hard he tries, my child has problems remaining seated even when she/he is supposed to.
  4. My child talks a lot, even when she/he has nothing much to say.

  5. My child often interferes in the classroom because s/he has difficulty engaging in quiet activities without disturbing others.

  6. In class or at home, my child blurts out answers to questions before they are fully asked.

  7. My child has difficulty waiting patiently to take turns, and frequently butts ahead in lines or grabs toys from playmates.

  8. Sometimes my child seems intrusive. She/he interrupts constantly other peoples’ activities and conversations.

If you checked off five or more symptoms, and these symptoms have been a persistent problem interfering in your child’s life at home and at school, your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Part Two: Inattentive (distracted) type

  1. My child makes careless mistakes.
  • It’s very difficult for my child to stay focused on homework or other tasks.
  • My child rarely completes an activity before moving to the next activity.

  • Even when spoken to directly, my child seems to not be paying attention.

  • My child is disorganized and even with my help can’t seem to learn how to become organized.

  • My child frequently loses things like homework and personal belongings.

  • My child tries to avoid activities that require sustained concentration and a lot of mental effort.

  • My child frequently forgets to do things, even when constantly reminded.

  • Even the smallest distractions throw my child off task.

  • If you checked off five or more  symptoms, and these symptoms have been a persistent problem interfering in your child’s life at home and at school, he or she may have inattentive type ADHD.

    It would be prudent to talk with a physician or a licensed mental health practitioner. You may take this checklist with you to the doctor’s office. Treatments are available for ADHD in children that can reduce substantially these neurologically based behaviors.

    Further Reading

    7 Signs of ADHD

    ADHD in Children

    Parenting Tips for Raising Kids With ADHD

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Symptoms

    Understanding ADHD

    The ADHD Test for Children: A Symptom Checklist for Kids

    Parenting Strategies That Work for ADHD Kids

    What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, ADD)?

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