Updated 30 November 2020
What is ADHD?Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD can be described as a brain development disorder that is more prevalent in male children than in females. ADHD can significantly influence both the learning ability and overall behaviour of a child. Children with ADHD are known to have problems concentrating and being attentive. They are also known to be hyperactive and impulsive by nature. A child with ADHD can be a disruptive influence in school. He or she may stop other children in a class from paying attention to classwork while also not paying any sort of attention to what they are being taught by their teacher. Usually ADHD can cause a child to be academically weak, not because they lack the intelligence, but because they find it hard to stay focused, to study and to learn. While ADHD children may seem to be a 'bad bunch', this is actually far from the truth. They are not deliberately disobedient and many do want to do well in school and to behave in an appropriate manner, but their condition prevents them from doing so. ADHD is not limited to only children with adults also known to have this condition. In adults, ADHD can be really distressing and can adversely affect their working and social life.
How do I know if my child has ADHD?ADHD symptoms may vary from child to child and can change throughout the child’s life. Typically, there are three types of ADHD based on symptoms and these are:
- Mainly inattentive symptoms
- lack of attention to detail
- Distracted easily
- Starting activities and not finishing them
- Making too many errors due to carelessness
- difficulty holding attention on tasks or play activities.
- Failure to follow instructions and finish tasks
- Randomly switching between tasks without completing any
- difficulty organizing tasks
- avoidance of tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time
- Mainly hyperactive-impulsive symptoms
- Inability to sit still resulting in fidgeting
- Inability to stay seated when expected to.
- Restlessness and unable to discretely work or play
- Excessive talking
- Frequent need to move, including running, pacing or climbing where it is not appropriate
- Combined symptoms
- neurophysiology – which includes differences in brain anatomy, electrical activity and metabolism
- genetics – some research suggests possible gene changes may be present
- drugs – the child’s mother having used nicotine or cocaine during pregnancy
- lead – chronic exposure to low levels of the metal lead may influence behaviour and brain chemistry
- lack of early attachment – if a baby does not bond with their parent or caregiver, or has traumatic experiences related to the attachment, this can contribute to their inattention and hyperactivity.
When to Seek Help?If your child exhibits predominantly inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive ADHD or a combination of these conditions, you should consult a doctor in the first instance. He or she may recommend that you see a child psychiatrist or child psychologist to carry out a thorough assessment of your child and determine the next course of action to take. An assessment is necessary in confirming if your child has ADHD and in determining the type he or she may have. The specialist will observe your child's behaviour while gathering information along the way. The medical history of your child will be examined to find out if there are any possible reasons to explain their ADHD, such as trauma or illness and to provide the right direction towards treatment.
Treatment for ADHDThe symptoms of ADHD may be treated in a number of different ways, some of which include;
- Psychotherapies like cognitive behaviour therapy and other behaviour therapy can help to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in your child.
- Counselling for the child and family members
- Stimulant medications can be prescribed to help with the impulsive and hyperactive behaviour of your child while also helping to improve their ability to stay attentive and focused especially at school
- Support groups for parents and carers. For example, Parental skills training and ADHD Support Groups