What Is ADHD And How To Spot The Signs In Your Child
Look out for inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness both at home and in the classroom...
6 November 2018
It’s normal for children to get distracted, forget their homework, get fidgety, or tune out from time to time.
But how do you know when inattention and hyperactivity is a sign that something more is going on?
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is the most common behavioural disorder in children, yet plenty of us are still in the dark about what it really is.
About 5% of children worldwide are diagnosed with ADHD, and if left untreated, the disorder can cause significant mental health problems, issues with work or education, and unnecessary distress and loneliness.
ADHD is something lots of parents worry about, but plenty of successful people with the disorder have gone on to achieve great things – but early diagnosis is key to managing it.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a behavioural disorder characterised by a group of symptoms: inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Signs of the disorder tend to be noticed at an early age – usually between 6-12 years old.
What causes ADHD?
The exact cause of ADHD isn’t known but it has a large hereditary component. - a big clue lies in your genes – ADHD often runs in families.
It’s primarily a neurodevelopmental disorder,which means certain aspects of brain development are slightly altered in those with ADHD.
There is evidence that some areas of the brain involved in attention and concentration may be less active, or even slightly smaller in children with ADHD than those without.
Further factors scientists believe may increase the risk of ADHD are being born before the 37th week of pregnancy or being a very low birth weight, having epilepsy, or having a brain injury before or following birth.
What are the symptoms to look out for?
The core symptoms are:
- general difficulty in regulating attention,
- controlling impulses
You may find that your child finds it difficult to focus at school and will frequently get bored, move on to new tasks before completing existing ones, or appear like they’re not listening.
Sitting still can often be a challenge for children with ADHD, and they may talk excessively, interrupt frequently, or have trouble waiting patiently for their turn.
You may also find they struggle to organise themselves, often lose things or forget what they’re supposed to be doing.
How is a diagnosis made?
To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must have been displaying symptoms since before age 12, and continuously for at least six months.
They must also be displaying six or more specific symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity on a regular basis and in at least two settings – such as at home and at school.
It should also be obvious that symptoms can’t be chalked up to a developmental disorder or difficult phase.
How can it be treated?
The first thing to know is that ADHD cannot be cured.
Often, symptoms change or reduce as time goes on and both medical and psychological treatments can help your child to control their symptoms.
ADHD can be treated using medication or therapy, - talking therapies like CBT, psychoeducation and social skills training are particularly useful for ADHD.
And these are five types licensed for the treatment of ADHD:
- 1. methylphenidate
- 2. dexamfetamine
- 3. lisdexamfetamine
- 4. atomoxetine
- 5. guanfacine
Much like anti-depressants for mental health issues, medication for ADHD is not a ‘cure’.
Providing a healthy, balanced diet for your child is important, and some people may notice a link between things like sugar, food colouring, additives and caffeine and worsening ADHD symptoms.