A Guide To Understanding ADHD

Olympians Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, Singers Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake, actress Paris Hilton and TV show host Howie Mandel are no doubt successful and famous personalities. They also share another commonality between them; a diagnosis of ADHD. This is proof enough that a diagnosis of ADHD needn’t become an obstacle in one’s path to success. Starting off with this for inspiration, let’s learn more about ADHD.

We’ve probably heard the term  ADHD a lot and the word “hyper” is often used loosely, without understanding its clinical background. ADHD is actually a medical condition and stands for  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Certain differences in brain development and activity can cause disruptions in one’s ability to sit still, focus, control impulses and attention, thereby causing ADHD. Most individuals are diagnosed as children or adolescents and some continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. If not diagnosed or treated it can affect a child’s academic performance and personal relationships. Contrary to common belief, it is not a type of Learning Disorder but many kids with ADHD can also have learning problems or mood or anxiety disorders. 

What ADHD can look like:

As the term suggests, ADHD causes challenges with attention and activity. By nature, most children are impulsive and very energetic. They find it difficult to sit still or wait their turn. These traits however do not mean they have ADHD. Children with ADHD experience these symptoms to a much more severe degree and do not develop impulse control or increased attention span as expected for their age, as they grow older. 

The symptoms of ADHD can be mainly categorized into three kinds and children may experience symptoms across all three categories or in one or two of them.  

Impulsivity

Difficulty waiting their turn

Often interrupts others

Blurts out answers before the question is completed

Acts without thinking 

Hyperactivity

Excessive physical movement

Trouble being seated

Restless & always on the move

Talks excessively

Constantly fidgets

Inattention

Easily distracted

Trouble following directions

Difficulty listening while others are speaking

Forgetful about daily activities

Tends to daydream

A quick look at the symptoms and they probably appear familiar and like common traits of children. However, it is important to know that most children develop better attention span, focus, concentration, sitting tolerance and ability to follow directions, wait their turn or control impulses as they grow older. ADHD can also affect a child’s performance at school. Most teachers will notice symptoms and raise concerns as they recognize the child’s sitting tolerance and activity levels are vastly different from the child’s peers. 

However, when children do not show any improvement and do not develop age-appropriate behaviour in the above areas, parents need to reach out for help to get a better understanding of these behaviours. 


Diagnosis:

The first step towards diagnosis occurs when parents or teachers who notice these symptoms share their concerns. A pediatrician will gather a thorough understanding of the child’s behaviour, activity, and health. Other investigations such as a vision and hearing test may also be recommended to rule out any other medical conditions. The doctor might also refer the child to a psychologist or psychiatrist. A diagnosis is made only when it is clear that the child’s symptoms are interfering in his day-to-day activities, at home and school and these behaviour disruptions are beyond what is expected for the child’s age. 

Treatment and Support

A diagnosis is all that it is and it doesn’t define a child. Many individuals with ADHD go on to live happy, successful and fulfilling lives. What is crucial is identifying the condition at the earliest and getting the right treatment for it.

Treatment for ADHD involves a mix of behaviour therapy, teacher support and parental coaching. Medication may also be recommended after a certain age or if behaviour management becomes a challenge despite therapy. Behaviour therapy mainly focuses on strengthening desirable behaviours and eliminating disruptive and unwanted behaviours.  

Parental coaching and counselling are crucial to ensure good progress. Coaching can give parents the right strategies and tools to deal with the child’s behaviour challenges.   As with most interventions, parents and therapists need to closely monitor the child’s improvement and response to treatment to accommodate changes and needs. 

Is ADHD a lifelong condition?

More than half of individuals diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, continue to experience symptoms in adulthood. With the right diagnosis and treatment, most individuals with ADHD can manage their symptoms effectively. 

As parents, there is plenty you can do for your child who battles ADHD. Showering your child with affection, boosting their self-esteem, following routines, adopting a healthy lifestyle and identifying and preventing stressful situations can provide your child much-needed support. Joining support groups, taking time out for yourself, ensuring self-care is equally important to ensure your interactions with your child are calm and positive. 

If you have concerns about your child's behaviour and are unsure what to make of them, get in touch with our Specialists today.

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