ADHD/ADD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common disorder. It affects a child’ s ability to pay attention, stay still, and/or control his or her impulses. ADHD is also called attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Despite their disorder, children with ADHD are talented, capable, and creative. They can grow up to become happy, accomplished, and successful adults.
The exact cause of ADHD is not known. Scientists think that ADHD may be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that help to control behaviour.
There are some mistaken beliefs about what causes ADHD. Researchers have confirmed that ADHD is NOT caused by:
- Poor parenting
- Family problems
- Bad teachers
- Ineffective schools
- Too much television
- Too much sugar
- Food allergies
The symptoms of ADHD usually appear in children and can continue into the teen and adult years. An estimated 3% to 5% of school-age children and 2% to 4% of adults have ADHD.
Many more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADHD. Girls with ADHD tend to have different symptoms than boys. Girls often have more trouble with attention. Boys may be more hyperactive. Because of this, girls are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and are less likely to get needed treatment.
Scientists think that genetics may play a role in determining who has ADHD since it tends to run in families. Children who have ADHD often have at least one close relative with the disorder. However, people often may not know that a family member has ADHD.
As children with ADHD enter adulthood, about half of them will still show signs of ADHD. The other half may appear to “outgrow” it. Most people do not outgrow ADHD. But, with the help of treatment, coping skills, and emotional support, they learn to change their behaviour and adjust the impact of ADHD on their daily lives.
ADHD is linked to 3 main types of behavior:
1. Trouble paying attention (inattention)
2. Trouble staying still (hyperactivity or over activity)
3. Trouble controlling impulses (impulsivity)
Most children with ADHD do not have all 3 types of behaviours. For example, in some children, the main symptom may be hyperactivity. Others have more trouble paying attention. Still others may show signs of both hyperactivity and inattention. Girls are often diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD.
Children who have trouble paying attention may:
- Have a hard time staying focused on one thing
- Become bored easily
- Be distracted easily
- Have difficulty organizing and completing tasks
- Lose or forget things often
- Make frequent careless mistakes
Children who have trouble staying still may:
- Be always on the go
- Squirm and fidget often
- Run around or climb on things often
- Talk too much and have difficulty playing quietly
Children who have trouble controlling their impulses may:
- Act before they think
- Shout out inappropriate comments
- Grab toys from other children
- Often be unwilling to take turns
As children grow older, their ADHD symptoms may change. For example, they may become less hyperactive but still have trouble paying attention and being organized.
All children have these behaviours from time to time. However, children with ADHD have them more often and more intensely. This can impair their ability to do well at home and at school. For instance, children with ADHD who can’ t stay still or control their impulses may often disrupt the classroom, mealtimes, or family gatherings. Social relationships with friends can also be affected.
Diagnosing ADHD can sometimes be difficult. Children are naturally energetic and often have some of the same behaviors found in children with ADHD. A trained professional with experience in diagnosing and treating ADHD is the best person to evaluate your child. A trained professional can be a pediatrician, a family doctor, a child neurologist, a school psychologist, or a child psychiatrist.
There is no single test to diagnose ADHD. Trained professionals diagnose ADHD using a combination of assessments. These assessments may include:
- A physical exam, including your child’ s medical and social history
- Your family’ s medical history
- A review of your child’ s school records
- Interviews with your child, the family, and teachers
- Rating scales, completed by parents and teachers, to identify behavior at home and at school
- Psychological tests
Treating ADHD is a long-term team effort. Treatment involves the child, parents, teachers, and health care professionals.
Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are effective ways to manage its symptoms. Your child’ s treatment plan may include:
- Behavioral management - to help your child change or control ADHD behaviors. These techniques can help you and your child identify unwanted behaviors and replace them with more positive ones. For instance, rewards, such as stickers or treats, can be used to reinforce and encourage desired behaviors.
- Counseling - to help the child and family understand and cope with their feelings and change unwanted behaviors. Counseling can include psychotherapy, social skills training, or parental training. It can help a child deal with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and stubborn behaviors.
- Medication - to improve symptoms so that your child can manage better at home, in school, and with friends, parents, and teachers. Medication is most helpful when it is combined with behavioral management or counselling.
There are several different types of medication used to treat ADHD. The type of medication that is most often prescribed is called a stimulant. Some people wonder how a medication called a stimulant can calm children who are overactive. Stimulants affect the brain’ s chemistry, causing it to work more effectively. This helps a child to be less impulsive and reduces overactivity. It also increases attention span. If the first medication your child takes does not work, your health care provider may prescribe others.
Talk with your child's healthcare provider to learn about the benefits of your child’ s ADHD medication and possible side effects. It is important that the team of professionals re-evaluate and adjust the treatment plan regularly as your child grows.
Treating ADHD is important for a child’s development. Without treatment, a child’ s self-esteem, confidence, and ability to function successfully at school or at home may suffer. He or she may find it hard to make or keep friends. Dealing with these issues day after day can be difficult and frustrating for children and their families.
Children who get treatment for ADHD learn to develop their personal strengths to deal with their condition. They learn how to adjust and control their behaviors in different situations. They start replacing unwanted behaviours with better ones. Their chances for success and happiness in school and at home are likely to increase. Children who are treated may also be less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs than those who are not treated.
ADHD can have a big impact on children and their families. Although treatment cannot cure the disorder, it can help people with ADHD develop self-control, feel competent, and live fulfilling lives.
Many children with ADHD are bright, capable, and creative. By working closely with your child’ s treatment team, you can help your child reach his or her full potential. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) should be made to meet his or her special educational needs. An effective IEP may include tutoring, resource room assistance, or extra help before, during, and/or after school. A comprehensive treatment plan that includes this IEP can help your child achieve academic and social success in school.
You might consider contacting your child's school principal to learn who will be working with you and your child during the school year. Your child's school support system may include the principal, teachers, a school psychologist, a school nurse, and a guidance counsellor. As a parent, it is important that you play an active role in your child’ s education.
ADHD affects not only the children who have it. It also affects their families. ADHD symptoms often frustrate and stress families. After ADHD is diagnosed and treatment begins, these problems slowly begin to lessen. Some family members find it easier to cope if they seek help. Some sources of help include:
- Parental classes that teach techniques for managing a child’ s behavior
- A support group that helps you meet other people who have similar experiences and concerns with ADHD
- A social worker, counselor, or mental health professional who can provide one-on-one counseling
On March 7th, 1996 Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy, the two Swiss-based chemical/life sciences giants, became Novartis