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 behaviours (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.
A child with ADHD might:
- have a hard time paying attention and daydream a lot
- not seem to listen
- be easily distracted from schoolwork or play
- forget things
- be in constant motion or unable to stay seated
- squirm or fidget
- talk too much
- not be able to play quietly
- act and speak without thinking
- have trouble taking turns
- interrupt others
How ADHD can be diagnosed?
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?
Talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. If you or your doctor has concerns about ADHD, you can take your child to a specialist such as a child psychologist or developmental pediatrician.
What are the types of ADHD?
There are three different types of ADHD, depending on which symptoms are strongest in the individual:
- Predominantly Inattentive Type: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
- Combined Type: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.
What are the causes of ADHD?
Scientists are studying cause(s) and risk factors in an effort to find better ways to manage and reduce the chances of a person having ADHD. The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Recent studies of twins link genes with ADHD
In addition to genetics, scientists are studying other possible causes and risk factors including:
- Brain injury
- Environmental exposures (e.g., lead)
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
What is the treatment?
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behaviour therapy. No single treatment is the answer for every child and good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.
Discuss with your doctor the right medication for your child