ADHD ( Attention deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ) is a biological disorder that affects about 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD. This disorder affects the ability of the child to function normally compared to same age peers.
Children with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive and have trouble focusing. They may understand what’s expected of them but have trouble following through because they can’t sit still, pay attention, or focus on details. Of course, all children (especially younger ones) act this way at times but the difference with ADHD is that symptoms are present over a longer period of time and happen in different settings. These children are not just naughty as this condition compromises a child’s ability to function socially, academically, and at home.
ADHD used to be known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD. In 1994, it was renamed ADHD and broken down into three subtypes, each with its own pattern of behaviors:
1. an inattentive type, with signs that include:
- trouble paying attention to details or a tendency to make careless errors in schoolwork or other activities
- difficulty staying focused on tasks or play activities
- apparent listening problems
- difficulty following instructions
- problems with organization
- avoidance or dislike of tasks that require mental effort
- the tendency to lose things like toys, notebooks, or homework
- forgetfulness in daily activities
2. a hyperactive-impulsive type, with signs that include:
- fidgeting or squirming
- difficulty remaining seated
- excessive running or climbing
- difficulty playing quietly
- always seeming to be “on the go”
- excessive talking
- blurting out answers before hearing the full question
- difficulty waiting for a turn or in line
- problems with interrupting or intruding
3. a combined type, a combination of the other two type, is the most common
Although it can be challenging to raise children with ADHD, it’s important to remember they aren’t “bad,”acting out,” or being difficult on purpose. These children struggle with poor self-esteem, academics, peer and family relationships as they have difficulty in controlling their behavior.
Causes of ADHD
ADHD is not caused by poor or wrong parenting. ADHD has biological origins that aren’t yet clearly understood. No single cause has been identified, but researchers are exploring a number of possible genetic and environmental factors.
Research also links smoking during pregnancy to later ADHD in a child. Other risk factors may include premature delivery, very low birth weight, and injuries to the brain at birth.
Some studies have even suggested a link between excessive early television watching and future attention problems. Parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) guidelines, which say that children under 2 years old should not have any “screen time” (TV, DVDs, videos, computers, or video games) and that kids 2 years and older should be limited to 1 to 2 hours per day, or less, of quality television programming.
ADHD can’t be cured, but it can be successfully managed. The goal is to help your child learn to control his or her own behavior and to help families create an atmosphere in which this is most likely to happen.
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medicine and behavior therapy. Any good treatment plan will include close follow-up and monitoring. Because it’s important for parents to actively participate in their child’s treatment plan, parent education is also an important part of ADHD management.
Sometimes the symptoms of ADHD become less severe as a person grows older. Hyperactivity tends to ease as kids become young adults, although the problems with organization and attention often remain. More than half of kids who have ADHD will continue to have symptoms as young adults.