ADHD, or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, affects around 6.4 million children in the U.S. Guidelines set forth by the American Pediatric Association allow for a diagnosis of ADHD in children 4 to 18 years old, although symptoms generally begin by the age of 12. The disorder causes the child to display hyperactivity and inattentiveness, resulting in variety of problems within the diagnosed patient’s life. ADHD affects the quality of life at home, at school, and in social situations for the teacher, the child and the parent.
Does my Child have ADHD?
Children with ADHD show the following attributes or symptoms:
• Difficulty staying on task/ concentrating
• Cannot seem to listen to what you are saying
• Interrupt others when they are talking
• Have trouble sitting down; always seem to squirm or fidget
• Distracted easily
• Cannot finish tasks
• Impulsive behaviors
Children with ADHD may find it difficult to make friends and their school grades may suffer as a result of the condition and the inability to pay attention. Parents of children diagnosed with ADHD also find it difficult to maintain control over their child at home and at various situations in life. Additional signs that indicate a child might suffer from ADHD:
• Talks rapidly
• Talks a lot
• Seems to get very excited when talking
• Forgets things easily
• Has trouble taking turns or playing with other children
Causes of ADHD
Genetics plays a large role in the development of ADHD. If a family member (parent, sister, brother, etc.) suffers from the condition, the child is more than twice as likely to develop ADHD themselves. Along with genetics, other potential causes of ADHD include:
• Low birth weight
• Premature birth
• Tobacco use during pregnancy
• Alcohol use during pregnancy
• Brain injuries
• Environmental situations and factors
Types of ADHD
Currently, three types of ADHD have been identified as diagnosable conditions by the APA. It is possible for a child to suffer from any of the three types of ADHD.
• Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: Children that fall into this category have difficulty concentrating, finishing tasks or listening to details. They also find it cumbersome to follow instructions or to keep up with a conversation. Children in this category also are easily distracted.
• Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This child is the one that cannot seem to sit still. He talks fast and rapidly and climbing a wall, a tree or a table is so much fun, even when he or she knows that trouble awaits for playing jungle gym. This type of ADHD causes the child to act impulsively and causes difficulty following directions.
• Combined Presentation: A child with combined presentation will have symptoms from each of the above categories in equal proportion.
The pediatrician will determine the type of ADHD (if any) that a child has based on the severity of various symptoms.
Children who experience symptoms of ADHD should visit a pediatrician who can perform a variety of tests, evaluate the medical history of the child and use other factors to make a diagnosis of the condition. There are several ‘ does my child have ADHD ‘ tools available for the pediatrician to use to help better diagnose the condition. If a child is diagnosed with ADHD, immediate treatment should begin. There is no cure for ADHD, but treatment is available, making it easier to manage the condition.
How is ADHD Treated?
Medication is just one way to treat ADHD – another way is to make changes in lifestyle. Such changes include:
• Dietary Changes: The pediatrician is likely to recommend a diet that you should follow to ease symptoms of ADHD. This recommended diet may remove sodas and caffeine from the diet since they may add to the excitability of the condition. The pediatrician is also going to suggest eliminating processed foods from the diet, instead offering the child home cooked, freshly prepared meals.
• Behavior Therapy: Behavior therapy is performed by a licensed therapist and is designed to help children learn how to control their impulsiveness and learn how to better cope with their condition. Almost all pediatricians recommend Behavior Therapy as the first line of ADHD treatment.
• Parenting Skills Training: Parents should learn effective ways to handle their child’s behavior. This training aims to help parents of ADHD diagnosed children learn better methods of disciplining their children.
What does an ADHD Diagnosis mean for a Child?
Today, many children suffering from ADHD turn into successful adults that outgrow the condition on their own in many instances of diagnosis. Even before adulthood, children diagnosed with ADHD are able to turn their lives around and live with normalcy despite the condition. This is with thanks to the variety of treatment options available for ADHD. It is imperative that diagnosis be made as quickly as possible so treatment can begin. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find the right medication and treatment options best suited for a child, since not all will respond in the same manner to every treatment.
Children with ADHD are able to live healthy, normal lives with the right treatments in place. Studies show that it is a combination of medication therapy and behavior therapy that provides the best results for treatment of the condition in children.
ADHD is a life changing condition, but with diagnosis and the proper treatments, it is one that is easily maintained. If you suspect that your child has ADHD, it is imperative to talk to your pediatrician as soon as possible. The sooner the right diagnosis is made, the sooner everyone can get back to the life they want to live. Learn about brain training and cognitive assessments for ADHD with C8 Sciences’ ACTIVATE™ program.