Almost all children have times when their behavior veers out of control. They may speed about in constant motion, make noise nonstop, refuse to wait their turn, and crash into everything around them. At other times they may drift as if in a daydream, failing to pay attention or finish what they start.
However, for some children, these kinds of behaviors are more than an occasional problem. Children with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have behavior problems that are so frequent and severe that they interfere with their ability to live normal lives. These children often have trouble getting along with siblings and other children at school, at home, and in other settings. Those who have trouble paying attention usually have trouble learning.
An impulsive nature may put them in actual physical danger. Because children with ADHD have difficulty controlling this behavior, they may be labeled “bad kids” or “space cadets”. Left untreated, more severe forms of ADHD can lead to serious, lifelong problems, such as poor grades in school, run-ins with the law, failed relationships, and inability to keep a job.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a condition of the brain that makes it difficult for children to control their behavior. It is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. It affects 4% to 12% of school-aged children. About 3 times more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
- 1. Inattentive Only – (formerly known as ADD) – children with this form of ADHD are not overly active. Because they do not disrupt the classroom or other activities, their symptoms may not be noticed. Among girls with ADHD, this form is most common.
- 2. Hyperactive/Impulsive – Children with this type of ADHD show both hyperactive and impulse behavior, but can pay attention. they are the least common group and are frequently younger.
- 3. Combined Inattentive/hyperactive/impulsive – children with this type of ADHD show a number of symptoms in all 3 dimensions. This is the most common type of ADHD.
How can I tell if my child has ADHD?
Remember, it is normal for all children to show some of these symptoms from time to time. Your child may be reacting to the parents’ attention. Sometimes a teacher is the first to notice inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity and bring these symptoms to the parents’ attention. Diagnosis will determine whether your child has ADHD using standard guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
These diagnosis guidelines are specifically for children 6 to 12 years of age, but could be applicable for younger or older children. It is more difficult to diagnose ADHD in children under 5 years of age. this is because children change very rapidly during preschool years.
To confirm a diagnosis of ADHD, symptoms:
- 1. Occur in more than one setting, such as home, school, and social situations and cause some impairment.
- 2. Significantly impair your child’s ability to function in some of the activities of daily life, such as schoolwork, relationships with you and his brothers and/or sister, and his relationship with friends or his ability to function in groups such as sports teams.
- 3. Start before the child reaches 7 years of age (however, these may nto be recognized as ADHD symptoms until a child is older)
- 4. Have continued for more than 6 months.
How will my child’s school be involved?
For an accurate diagnosis, we will need to get information about your child directly from your child’s classroom teacher or another school professional. Children at least 5 years of age and older spend many waking hours at school. Teachers provide valuable insights.
- 1. Your child’s behavior in the classroom
- 2. Your child’s learning patterns
- 3. How long the symptoms have been a problem
- 4. How the symptoms are affecting your child’s progress at school
- 5. Ways the classroom program is being adapted to help your child
- 6. Whether other conditions may be affecting the symptoms
What causes ADHD?
ADHD is one of the most studied conditions of childhood, but ADHD may be caused by a number of things.
Research to date has shown:
- 1. ADHD is a biological disorder
- 2. A lower level of activity in the parts of the brain that control attention and activity level may be associated with ADHD
- 3. ADHD runs in families. Sometimes a parent is diagnosed with ADHD at the same time as the child.
- 4. In very rare cases, toxins in the environment may lead to ADHD
- 5. Significant head injuries may cause ADHD in some cases.
- 6. Prematurity increases the risk of developing ADHD.
- 7. Prenatal exposure, such as alcohol, or nicotine from smoking, increase the risk of developing ADHD
There is little evidence that ADHD is caused by:
- 1. eating too much sugar
- 2. food allergies
- 3. allergies
- 4. immunizations