Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty focusing, and hyperactivity (over-activity).
Symptoms of ADHD?
Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. It is normal for all children to be inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive sometimes, but for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often. Individuals with ADHD may
- Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
- Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
- Experience difficulty focusing attention and may have difficulty organizing/ completing or learning something new
- Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments or often losing things
- Be very impatient
- Talk nonstop
- Not appear to be listening when spoken to
- Daydream, or become easily confused, and move slowly
How is ADHD diagnosed?
No single test can diagnose someone with ADHD. Instead, a licensed health professional needs to gather information about the child, and their behavior and environment. The health specialist will first try to rule out other possibilities for the symptoms. For example, certain situations, events, or health conditions may cause temporary behaviors in a child.
How is ADHD treated?
Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of therapy, education/training, or a combination of treatments.
Medications: For many children, ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. The most common type of medication used for treating ADHD is called a "stimulant." Although it may seem unusual to treat ADHD with a medication considered a stimulant, it actually has a calming effect on children with ADHD. A few other ADHD medications are non-stimulants and work differently. Any child taking medications must be monitored closely and carefully by caregivers and doctors.
Therapy, Education and Training: Frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family of an individual with ADHD. Therapy will assist parents and children in overcoming bad feelings. These professionals will also educate families and help them develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.
Tips to Help Kids Stay Organized and Follow Directions
- Schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.
- Organize everyday items. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.
- Use homework and notebook organizers. Use organizers for school material and supplies. Stress to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.
- Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules.