DD – ADHD or attention deficit/hyperactivity affects almost 10% of children or close to 5 million children and adolescents from three to eighteen years of age. ADD – ADHD is a brain disorder (or as we like to call it a brain difference) that causes kids and teens to experience difficulty with attention, concentration, self-control and self-esteem. A number of causes have been identified and research continues to narrow some of them down.
ADHD has many symptoms. Some symptoms at first may look like normal behaviours for a child, but ADHD makes them much worse and occ more often. Children with ADHD have at least six symptoms that start in the first five or six years of their lives.
Children with ADHD may:
Get distracted easily and forget things often
Switch too quickly from one activity to the next
Have trouble with directions
Daydream too much
Have trouble finishing tasks like homework or chores
Lose toys, books, and school supplies often
Fidget and squirm a lot
Talk nonstop and interrupt people
Run around a lot
Touch and play with everything they see
Be very impatient
Blurt out inappropriate comments
Have trouble controlling their emotions.
Your child’s doctor may make a diagnosis. Or sometimes the doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist who is more experienced with ADD – ADHD to make a diagnosis. There is no single test that can tell if your child has ADHD. If your child is having trouble at school or at home and has been for a long time, ask his or her doctor about ADHD.
Children with ADHD can get better with treatment, but there is no cure. There are three basic types of treatment:
Medication. Several medications can help. The most common types are called stimulants. Medications help children focus, learn, and stay calm. Sometimes medications cause side effects, such as sleep problems or stomach-aches. Your child may need to try a few medications to see which one works best. It’s important that you and your doctor watch your child closely while he or she is taking medicine.
Therapy. There are different kinds of psychosocial interventions. Behaviour Therapy can help teach children to control their behaviour, so they can do better at school and at home.
Medication and therapy combined. Many children do well with both medication and therapy.
Both the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) professional guidelines for best practice treatment of ADHD state that medication should be used in conjunction with psychosocial interventions for best over-all results.
The guidelines also state that for children with mild to moderate ADHD symptoms, it may be advisable to try psychosocial interventions first before adding medication. Research indicates that children with ADD – ADHD who receive behaviour therapy along with parents receiving parent management training have the best outcomes regardless of whether they receive medication.