ADHD, otherwise known as ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’, is defined as a “condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity”. If you feel that your child might be suffering from ADHD, take a look at the causes, symptoms and treatment options available below.
Symptoms of ADHD can often be spotted from early childhood, and become more prominent when the individual’s circumstances change – for example, making the transition from playschool to primary school. Most cases of ADHD are diagnosed between the age of 6-12 years of age. The most common symptoms of ADHD in children are:
- Inattentiveness – The main signs of inattentiveness are a short attention span, making careless mistakes, forgetfulness, the inability to listen, constantly changing task and a lack of organisation
- Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness – The main signs of this are constant fidgeting, the inability to concentrate, excessive talking and movement, a lack of patience, acting without thinking, interrupting conversations and a limited sense of danger
The NHS explain that the exact causes of ADHD are unknown. They do, however, suggest that a few different factors can have an impact on the severity of a child’s ADHD:
- Premature birth (37 weeks or earlier)
- A low birth weight
- Smoking, alcohol and drug use during pregnancy
- Genetics – ADHD tends to run in the family, so your child may have inherited it from a parent or grandparent
- Epilepsy – It is thought that those who suffer with epilepsy are more likely to be at risk of ADHD
If you feel like the above criteria applies to your child, book an appointment to see a GP. They will run you through their concerns, and if they feel as though ADHD may be present, will likely refer you for a ‘formal assessment’. This may include a physical examination (this will rule out any physical factors), a series of interview with your child, and reports from other individuals in your child’s life (including parents, teachers, and elder siblings).
If the outcome of this assessment shows that your child has been showing ADHD-like symptoms for at least 6 months in at least two different settings (e.g. school and home life), the specialist will be able to diagnose ADHD.
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, there are a number of different treatment options available which will alleviate the symptoms:
- Medication – There are five different medications which are used to treat ADHD: methylphenidate, dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine, atomoxetine, and guanfacine. These are not a permanent cure, however will aid concentration and help your child to feel calmer. To read about these medications in extensive detail, visit the NHS website.
- Therapy – Cognitive therapy is a really effective way of treating your child’s ADHD. Different methods include: psychoeducation, behavioural therapy, parent training, and social skills training.
- Diet – a healthy, balanced diet for your child can be a really effective way of improving their symptoms. Consider keeping a food diary and tracking your child’s ADHD alongside it.
To find more detailed information about ADHD in children, go to the NHS website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/