ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is a brain disorder characterized by ongoing patterns of hyperactivity, impulsivity or inattention. These behaviors interfere with development and functioning. Children with ADHD may have learning disabilities. It generally starts in childhood and can last into your adulthood years.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Kids may daydream in class, forget their homework, fidget or act without thinking. But, ADHD can lead to issues at school and home and affect how your child learns and gets along with others. To address the problem and get your child treatment, you first need to learn what the symptoms and signs of ADHD are.
Your child may have problems with:
- Inattention: They may lack persistence, wander off task, become disorganized and have difficulty staying focused. However, these issues aren’t because they lack comprehension or are defiant.
- Impulsivity: Your child may take hasty actions without thinking about them first. These actions may be harmful. They may be because your child is seeking instant rewards or can’t delay gratification.
- Hyperactivity: Your child may move around constantly, even in appropriate situations. They may excessively tap, fidget or talk. They may be hyperactive.
Here are some common signs of ADHD in children.
- Interrupting. A person with ADHD may have self-focused behavior and interrupt others or butt into games or conversations they’re not a part of.
- Self-focused behavior. Your child might not recognize the needs and desires of others.
- Emotional turmoil. They may not be able to keep their emotions in check. They may have temper tantrums or outbursts of anger at times that aren’t appropriate.
- Unable to wait their turn. Children with ADHD often can’t wait for their own turn when playing games with other kids or during classroom activities.
- Fidgetiness. They can’t sit still. They often fidget, get out of their seats and run around or squirm around in their chair.
- Lack of focus. Your child might have difficulties paying attention regardless if they’re being spoken to or not. They may tell you they hear you, but they can’t repeat what you said back to you.
- Difficulties playing quietly. Fidgetiness may make it hard for your child to engage in leisure activities calmly or quietly.
- Unfinished tasks. Your child might not be able to finish things, even if they’re interested in them. They can’t finish things like chores, projects or homework before they move on to something else.
Causes of ADHD
National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) researchers are studying the causes of this condition. Their research shows environmental or genes may be factors that contribute to ADHD. Similar to other conditions, certain factors may contribute to ADHD like:
- Alcohol use
- Cigarette smoking
- Exposure to environmental toxins like lead at a young age
- Brain injuries
- Low birth weight
Other studies don’t support popular views that the condition factors like watching too much TV, eating too much sugar, social, parenting and other factors like family chaos or poverty cause ADHD. But, like many other things, these factors could make ADHD symptoms worse. There’s just not enough solid evidence to say they actually cause the condition.
While your child might be experiencing what appear to be ADHD symptoms, it could be signs of another condition. So, it’s best to have your child examined by their pediatrician.
Treatment for ADHD
Treatment methods might include psychological intervention, special education programs and drug therapy. Your child’s doctor will decide the best course of action for their symptoms.
Combining behavioral therapy with medications long-term seems to be a better treatment plan than medication alone or not receiving treatment at all to manage impulsivity, hyperactivity, inattention and symptoms of depression or anxiety. Children taking ADHD medications and receiving behavioral therapy also seem to have better social skills.
Some stimulant medicines used include:
- Adzenys XR-ODT
- Quillivant XR
These medications can help your child ignore distractions and focus their thoughts.
Behavioral therapy can help your child by encouraging routines, creating more structure and stating expectations clearly to your child.
Other Things That Can Help
Social skills training can benefit your child as well. It will help them learn behaviors that will encourage them to develop social relationships and maintain them.
Parenting skills and support groups are also available to help you learn more about your child’s condition and how to better parent them.
Also important for your child is staying healthy. In addition to medication and behavioral therapy, encouraging a healthy lifestyle can help your child cope better with their symptoms of ADHD. Some healthy behaviors that could help your child include:
- Eating a healthy diet consisting of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, seeds and nuts and legumes
- Engaging in physical exercise or activity daily
- Getting enough sleep
- Limiting how much screen time they have with computers, TV, phones, etc.
There’s not one treatment that will work for every child who has ADHD. The doctor will need to obtain your child’s personal history and learn their symptoms and personal needs. Working closely with your child’s pediatrician and pediatric occupational therapist can help find the absolute best treatment course for your child’s ADHD.