Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often a misunderstood diagnosis or simply missed, whether by the parents of patients suffering from the condition or their teachers.
Research has shown that the percentage of kids who suffer from ADHD are anywhere between five and eight percent of children.
ADHD is a condition that is usually characterized by short attention span, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.
Signs and Symptoms
Tasks and School Work
- Difficulty in finishing even the simplest of tasks.
- Inability to sit still for a short story or doesn’t have the attention span to help stir a bowl of cookie dough.
- Difficulty in following instructions and processing information to the extent others his age do.
- Inability to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work or with other activities.
- Has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
- Avoids, dislike or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books etc.).
- Talks constantly just for the sake of talking. This doesn’t mean the toddler who asks a million questions or repeatedly asks “why” has ADHD. The child with ADHD will ramble on and on about whatever comes into his head and repeat things.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g. butts into conversations or games).
- Constantly on the move. Jumping on the bed, off the furniture, fidgeting, wiggling, playing with their food.
- Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Is easily distracted and forgetful.
- Blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
- Has trouble waiting his turn.
Continue reading to learn the difference between a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and one without
A child without ADHD vs a child with ADHD
Children tend to be overly active in number of situations. Often, this behavior can be misinterpreted or termed as ADHD by the caregiver.
Here’s a cheat sheet on how to determine whether your child has ADHD or is just being, well, a child.
To differentiate general hyperactivity from ADHD or other behavioral problems, parents need to focus on the following:
- Symptoms need to be pervasive, that is, they must be present in more than one situation (school, home, activity class).
- Symptoms must start to surface in the first five years of life. Children in the age range of one to five have a very short attention span and are curious and exploratory in nature as a feature of the developmental phase they are in. This may make an observer like a teacher to feel that their ward is unable to focus or is shifting from one activity to another. But this is normal.
On the other hand, children with ADHD exhibit excessive symptoms even in calm situations.
- Symptoms must occur very frequently in a short span of time. Increased activity levels of the child does not always mean hyperactivity.
- New situations, new people and new set of toys or a change in the setting of furniture in the house may also make a child excited and jumpy. These temporary bursts of energy do not signify a problem. A child with ADHD exhibits these symptoms throughout and has the ability to make the parent or caregiver thoroughly exhausted everyday.
- Symptoms must be developmentally inappropriate. Children have different skill-sets as per age. Between two children, even a month’s age difference show varied developing rates. So a child must be compared to other children of the same age and IQ to suspect a behavioral problem.
- Symptoms must disrupt daily life functioning. Restlessness in children with ADHD is so severe that every activity with the child feels like a ‘high-maintenance’ one.
- Child-proofing may never seem enough for households with children who have ADHD.
If the above criteria are met, then a parent can seek the help of mental health specialist like a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist for the diagnosis of ADHD.
Continue reading to learn what causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
The exact causes for ADHD have yet to be identified, but there are certain factors thought to contribute to the disorder:
- Genetics. Studies have found that children who suffer from ADHD have a close relative who has it, too.
- Brain Structure. Brains scans have shown that sufferers of ADHD have certain parts of the brain that are smaller compared to those without ADHD.
- During Pregnancy. Some research has found a link between smoking, drinking alcohol or drug use while expecting in children who have ADHD.
- Birth. Premature birth of before 37 weeks, a low birth rate and brain damage can contribute to developing ADHD.
- Watching TV. Studies have linked watching TV to attention problems. It is recommended to limit screen time of kids by having a maximum of two hours per day.
- Have difficulty socializing with peers and being accepted by adults
- Struggles academically due to the inability to focus
- Increased risk of accidents and injuries
- Low-self esteem
- Inclination to drug and/or alcohol abuse and delinquent behavior later in life
Continue reading to learn how attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is tested and diagnosed
Tests and Diagnosis
There is no test to determine whether a child has ADHD or not. However, there is a process to be followed to determine whether or not a child has the disorder.
The doctor will interview family, teachers and other caregivers of gather if they observed symptoms of ADHD along with when these started and how frequently they occurred.
Then the doctor will compare behavior with other children from the same age range.
It is usually tricky to diagnose ADHD in children under five because they can exhibit some of the symptoms in certain situations and change rapidly during the early years.
Doctors diagnose the condition if six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and inattentiveness are present in the child. The frequency must be regular, for six months or more and in at least two different settings (such as school and at home).
Also, it is noteworthy to mention that some symptoms of ADHD can be caused by the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Sudden changes or life events that may be traumatic for a child such as death, divorce or moving
- Other medical conditions that affect the brain
- Seizures that remain undetected
Continue reading to learn what how attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is treated
Treatments and Drugs
1. Stimulants are usually prescribed to children with ADHD. It improves focus while decreasing hyperactivity.
Today’s formulas allow the medication to be taken once a day, while patches that are used for nine hours are also available.
Doses differ from child to child. Doctors must monitor dosage to assess effectivity and any possible side effects. The latter includes: reduced appetite, stomach ache, headaches, insomnia, irritability and increased anxiety.
Also, remember to discuss with your doctor possible side effects stimulants have on children.
Make sure your doctor assesses your child for any heart conditions that can be aggravated by stimulants to cause death. The occurrences of such are rare, though.
2. Certain antidepressants, though they take effect at a slower rate compared to stimulants, are also prescribed to children who cannot take stimulants because of health reasons.
Just a precaution, work closely with your doctor in observing how your child responds to the antidepressants since there was some controversy back then on whether or not they are a suicide risk for some kids.
3. Several types of therapy are available. Psychotherapy allows older children to discuss what bothers them.
Behavioral management is the most common of the type, involves working with the child to improve learning skills through a system of a reward system to encourage certain behaviors. It can be for parents, other carers for the child or for teachers, too.
Continue reading for more ways to help a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Strategies at home
Below are some strategies you can do to help your child focus, plan activities that match their current attention span.
- Make your child spend ten minutes of time coloring a picture or four lines of writing and then take a short break. As he grows older with practice and your patience, you can help him increase his attention span.
- Break long instructions into smaller ones and give him only one at a time.
- If a child does not have enough avenues to spend his energy, it may make him fidgety, overactive and even destructive in the house. So allow him to spend time outdoors.
- Push your child to find a new passion. A new hobby such as cooking or painting can lead to a sense of fulfillment which in turn boosts self-esteem.
- Although a child with ADHD shouldn’t be kept idle, don’t overwhelm yours with activities that he is not familiar with and can’t make head or tails of. Sign your child up, to begin with, for one extracurricular activity like sports, art or music.
- At home, come up with simple games that engage your kid, whether it’s bringing out the utensils for you to use when cooking or sitting down to play Monopoly.
- Avoid using screen-related activities (like TV shows or video games) as things to occupy him with because these may worsen the condition.
- Cut down on the intake of sugary snacks in a day.
- Alter the child’s diet. Eliminating processed foods with dyes and chemicals can help tremendously. Our bodies were designed to run on fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products, so junk food should be an exceptional treat. Children whose diet is monitored are often easier to manage, without any medicinal measures being taken.
- Declutter. Make your child’s daily life as uncomplicated as possible.
- Organize everything and make sure that everything is labelled in big letters if your child will be around the place. If you make neatness and organization your priority, then your child will pick up on those traits and keep them in practice the rest of their life.
- Set up a routine with plenty of room for stimulating activities.
- Set a pattern and never stray from it. Kids with ADHD thrive on routine and repetition, even for the most simple of activities like brushing their teeth.
- Set an activity or activities leading up to mealtimes so the more your child does it, the more it sets in. Changes, even the smallest ones, can disrupt progress so make sure you don’t break the habit.
- Spell everything out clearly to your child. The main difference between a normal child and a kid with ADHD is consistency. And this is true even in the case of punishment or rewards. If you say that this is what they will get for being good or being naughty, make sure to deliver on those words. Write it down and put it up in a place that’s easy for your child to read. It’s a bit like their daily routine, the more the system’s repeated, the better it is for your child.
- Track progress. Use a progress chart as a visual reminder for your child to do better. Remember to celebrate small successes and be patient. Do not expect changes to happen over night
- Stay focused, keep yourself in check and always be consistent with your child. In the long run, he will be the better for it.
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Also read: ADHD sa mga bata: Sanhi, sintomas, at treatment