ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.
Signs and symptoms
It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.
A child with ADHD might:
- daydream a lot
- forget or lose things often
- squirm or fidget excessively
- talk too much
- make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
- have a hard time resisting temptation
- have trouble taking turns
- have difficulty getting along with others
Causes of ADHD
In addition to genetics, scientists are studying other possible causes and risk factors including: Scientists are studying cause(s) and risk factors in an effort to find better ways to manage and reduce the chances of a person having ADHD. The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Recent studies of twins link genes with ADHD.
- Brain injury
- Environmental exposures (e.g. lead)
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
Research does not support the popularly held views that ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty or family chaos. Of course, many things, including these, might make symptoms worse, especially in certain people. But the evidence is not strong enough to conclude that they are the main causes of ADHD. For more information about cause(s) and risk factors, visit the National Resource Center on ADHD or the National Institute of Mental Health.
Deciding if a child has ADHD is a several step process. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. One step of the process involves having a medical exam, including hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems with symptoms like ADHD. Another part of the process may include a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms and taking a history of the child from parents, teachers, and sometimes, the child. Learn more about the criteria for diagnosing ADHD.
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. No single treatment is the answer for every child and good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.
For tips on sharing concerns about a child's development, give us a call - Charlottesville 434-529-6248 or Roanoke 540-400-8505
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sponsors the National Resource Center, a program of CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Their Web site has links to information for people with ADHD and their families. The National Resources Center operates a call center with trained staff to answer questions about ADHD. The number is 1-800-233-4050.
In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help for ADHD as early as possible.
ADHD in adults
ADHD often lasts into adulthood. For more information about diagnosis and treatment throughout the lifespan, please visit the websites of the National Resource Center on ADHD and the National Institutes of Mental Health.
My child has been diagnosed with ADHD - Now what?
It is understandable for parents to have concerns when their child is diagnosed with ADHD, especially about treatments. It is important for parents to remember that while ADHD can't be cured, it can be successfully managed. There are many treatment options, so parents and doctors should work closely with everyone involved in the child's treatment — teachers, coaches, therapists, and other family members. Taking advantage of all the resources available will help you guide your child towards success. Remember, you are your child's strongest advocate!
Treatment of ADHD among children with special health care needs
The Journal of Pediatrics has published a new study, Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder among Children with Special Health Care Needs, describing parent-reported treatment of ADHD among children with special health care needs.
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.
Following are treatment options for ADHD:
- Behavioral intervention strategies
- Parent training>
- School accommodations and interventions
Following are examples that might help with your child’s behavioral therapy:
- Create a routine. Try to follow the same schedule every day, from wake-up time to bedtime.
- Get organized. Put schoolbags, clothing, and toys in the same place every day so your child will be less likely to lose them.
- Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV, radio, and computer, especially when your child is doing homework.
- Limit choices. Offer a choice between two things (this outfit, meal, toy, etc., or that one) so that your child isn't overwhelmed and overstimulated.
- Change your interactions with your child. Instead of long-winded explanations and cajoling, use clear, brief directions to remind your child of responsibilities.
- Use goals and rewards. Use a chart to list goals and track positive behaviors, then reward your child's efforts. Be sure the goals are realistic—baby steps are important!
- Discipline effectively. Instead of yelling or spanking, use timeouts or removal of privileges as consequences for inappropriate behavior.
People with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active. Although ADHD can't be cured, it can be successfully managed and some symptoms may improve as the child ages.
Connections Achievement and Therapy Center offers the latest technology and methods for treating ADHD. If you think your child may be having issues, make an appointment with our specialist today!