What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood. It is sometimes referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), and, in some cases, are overly active.
What are some of the signs of ADHD?
It is normal for children, at one time or another, to have trouble focusing and behaving. However, in children with ADHD, the symptoms continue instead of getting better, and they can make learning very difficult. (This information is made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
ADHD has three main types. The child must have at least six symptoms:
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities. Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
- Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework.
- Loses things necessary for tasks or activities, such as toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools.
- Is easily distracted by outside stimuli.
- Is forgetful in daily activities.
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
- Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
- Runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate.
- Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
- Is often on the go or often acts as if driven by a motor.
- Often talks excessively.
- Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
- Has difficultly awaiting turn.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others.
Combined Type -has six or more symptoms of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. (This information is made available by adhdcure.org) Deciding if a child has ADHD is a several step process. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. One step of the process involves having a medical exam, including hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems with symptoms like ADHD. Another part of the process may include a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms and taking a history of the child from parents, teachers, and sometimes, the child.
What can I do if I think my child may have ADHD?
If you or your doctor have concerns about ADHD, you can take your child to a specialist such as a child psychologist, developmental pediatrician, neurologist who evaluates and treats children with this disorder, or you can contact your local early intervention agency (for children under 3) or public school (for children 3 and older). To find out who to speak to in your area, you can contact the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities by logging on to http://www.nichcy.org/ or calling 1-800-695-0285. Once your child has been diagnosed with ADHD it is important that you discuss with your physician the treatments that are available to help your child succeed. Together, you can decide what the appropriate treatment plan is. This may include medical and non-medical interventions. The most important and useful thing that you can do to help your child is to become educated on what attention deficit disorder is and isn’t. You may also choose to join a local support group to talk with other parents of children of ADD/ADHD.