Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).
ADHD has three subtypes:
- Predominantly Inattentive
The person finds it very difficult to organize or finish a task. They find it hard to pay attention to details and find it difficult to follow instructions or conversations.
The person finds it hard to keep still - they fidget and talk a lot. A smaller child may be continually jumping, running or climbing. They are restless and impulsive - interrupting others, grabbing things and speaking at inappropriate times. They have difficulty waiting their turn and find it hard to listen to directions. A person with this type of ADHD will have more injuries and/or accidents than others.
- Combined Type
A person whose symptoms include all those of 1 and 2, and whose symptoms are equally predominant. In other words, all the symptoms in 1 and 2 stand out equally.
What are the general signs of ADHD in children?
Children who have symptoms of inattention may:
- Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
- Have difficulty focusing on one thing
- Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
- Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
- Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
- Not seem to listen when spoken to
- Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
- Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
- Struggle to follow instructions.
Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:
- Fidget and squirm in their seats
- Talk nonstop
- Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
- Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
- Be constantly in motion
- Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:
- Be very impatient
- Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
- Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
- Often interrupt conversations or others' activities.
ADHD Can Be Mistaken for Other Problems
Parents and teachers can miss the fact that children with symptoms of inattention have the disorder because they are often quiet and less likely to act out. They may sit quietly, seeming to work, but they are often not paying attention to what they are doing. They may get along well with other children, compared with those with the other subtypes, who tend to have social problems. But children with the inattentive kind of ADHD are not the only ones whose disorders can be missed. For example, adults may think that children with the hyperactive and impulsive subtypes just have emotional or disciplinary problems.
The above signs may be observed in children frequently and usually do not mean the child has ADHD. It is when these signs become significantly more pronounced in one child, compared to other children of the same age, and when his/her behavior undermines his/her school and social life, that the child may have ADHD.
Some children with ADHD also have other illnesses or conditions. For example, they may have one or more of the following:
Autism,Learning disability,Oppositional defiant behaviour and also co-exist with sleep disorder,bed wetting,eating disorder and meltdowns.
Recognizing ADHD symptoms and seeking help early will lead to better outcomes for both affected children and their families.
There is no known cause of ADHD,but possible risk factors include
Food addictives intake during pregnancies
Mercury exposure during pregnancy.
Interesting link: Possible causes of ADHD (New Zealand's ADHD Online Support Group)
This could be done by Psychologist,Pediatrician,Psychiatrist with input from an Occupational therapist.Also done through observations of the child’s behaviour in his daily routines.
Recent studies by the Food and drug Administation,US,have approved the use of EEG for more accurate diagnosis.
Interesting links Diagnostic Criteria for ADHD (ADHD Information Services)Treatment
Treatment options for ADHD include
Occupational Therapy intervention in which physical,behavioural,social and cognitive goals are drawn up and addressed using therapeutic activities in home and school settings
Medications-this should be prescribed by a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable about ADHD and closely monitored by him.