ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
WHAT IT MEANS?
ADHD is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes problems such as difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. Some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms, but they can learn ways to cope and be successful.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
The definite cause of ADHD is unknown. But many factors have been implicated in its development. Genes, environmental factors, problems in the central nervous system during childhood, maternal drug use, smoking during pregnancy, and premature birth.
In children, signs and symptoms are noticeable from 2-3 years of age.
- Frequently daydreaming
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
- Difficulty organizing tasks
- Forgetfulness or loses needed items
- Difficulty following instructions
- Excessively talkative
- Easily distracted
- Difficulty remaining seated
- Frequently fidgets or squirms
- Frequently interrupts
It’s important to remember that most healthy children are inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive at one time or another. It’s normal for kids with ADHD to have a short attention span. In older adults and teenagers, attention span often depends on the level of interest. Children should never be classified as having ADHD just because they’re different from their friends or siblings.
WHAT TESTS TO EXPECT FOR ADHD?
There’s no specific test for ADHD. A diagnosis generally includes a medical history and interviews or questionnaires. Information is generally gathered from several sources, including parents, schools, and caregivers.
A child diagnosed with ADHD may be given a more specific diagnosis (a subtype), such as predominantly inattentive type ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD, or combined type ADHD.
Standard ADHD treatments include medications, education, training, and counseling. These treatments can relieve many of the symptoms of ADHD, but they won’t cure it. It may take some time to determine what works best for your child.
- Stimulant Medications
Stimulant drugs (psychostimulants) are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. They’re thought to boost and balance levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Medications can improve the signs and symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity.
Talk with your doctor about the possible side effects of stimulants. The drugs shouldn’t be taken if your child has any signs or symptoms of a heart condition or heart disease runs in the family.
- Behavior Therapy and Counseling
Behavior therapy and counseling may be provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other mental health professionals. The best results usually occur when a team approach is used, with teachers, parents, and therapists, or physicians working together. Children talk about their condition, as well as learn appropriate social behaviors and how to deal with difficult situations.
To help reduce problems or complications:
- Provide structure without strict discipline. Arrange things in your child's life so that it is calm, predictable, and organized. Set limits and have clear consequences for your child’s behavior.
- Follow a routine. Put together a daily routine for your child with clear expectations that include such things as bedtime, morning time, mealtime, activity, and TV.
- Avoid distraction. When talking with your child, don’t multitask. Make eye contact when giving instructions.
- Set an example. Try to remain patient. Speak quietly and calmly. Reward good behavior and provide positive feedback.
Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”.