ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is the most common behavioral disorder that starts during childhood. It is a type of neurobehavioural developmental disoeder. A child with ADHD finds it much more difficult to focus on something without being distracted. He/She has greater difficulty in controlling what he/she is doing or saying and is less able to control how much physical activity is appropriate for a particular situation compared to somebody without ADHD. In other words, a child with ADHD is much more impulsive and restless.
The onset of ADHD usually occurs before the child is 7 years old. For about 75% of ADHD sufferers, symptoms continue into adulthood. However, levels of hyperactivity tend to decrease as the person gets older.
ADHD cannot be diagnosed physically, i.e. with a blood test, urine test, brain scan or a physical check up. As most children have problems with self-control anyway, a proper diagnosis can be quite challenging.
An ADHD diagnosis has to be carried out by a psychiatrist – who will observe the child and recognize behavior patterns. Data regarding the child’s behavior at home and at school will also be studied. Only a specialist will be able to accurately detect whether other problems and/or conditions are resulting in ADHD-like behavioral characteristics.
Symptoms of ADHD
What are the general signs of ADHD in children?
the child is restless, overactive, fidgety
the child is constantly chattering
the child is continuously interrupting people
the child cannot concentrate for long on specific tasks
the child is inattentive
the child finds it hard to wait his/her turn in play, conversations or standing in line (queue)
Types of ADHD
There are three types of ADHD. They are defined according to which symptoms stand out the most.
Predominantly Inattentive Type
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.
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
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.
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.
Causes of ADHD
We are not sure about the causes of ADHD. A person’s risk of developing ADHD is higher if a close relative also has/had it. Studies on twins have indicated that ADHD is highly heritable. ADHD is much more common in boys than girls. The scientists generally agree that ADHD is biological in nature. Many reputable researchers believe that ADHD is the result of chemical imbalances in the brain.
Treatment of ADHD
The treatment of ADHD may involve 3 types of treatment:
Behavioural training: Behavioural training programs may help a child develop a longer attention span and be able to sit still. They utilise specific techniques based on behavioural and learning principals to bring about changes in behaviour.
Coping skills: Children with ADHD can be taught to manage highly stimulating situations that distract or over-excite them. They should be encouraged to study in quiet places and to take frequent breaks. In a classroom, they do best at individual desks rather than at a table with others. They also often find background instrumental music to be helpful. Children with ADHD need more structure and daily routine than most others.
Medication : Medicines provide good relief from hyperactivity and enhances focus.
Usually treatment plan involves all three approaches.