Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. Usually you are diagnosed with ADHD when you are a child and carry’s on into your 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. (Center of Disease Control, 2019). Children usually grow up having some behavior issues which we would classify as normal, but children with ADHD usually do not outgrow these behaviors.
Children with ADHD often underachieves in school, have problems with interpersonal relationships, and have low self-esteem.( Leifer, 2019).ADHD often occurs with learning disabilities; however, learning disabilities are not a part of ADHD, and the child usually has average or above- average intellectual ability.(Leifer, 2019) Some presenting signs and symptoms you could see or notice in a child with ADHD is that they may daydream a lot, forget or lose things, you may notice squirming or fidgeting, and excessive talking. Other behaviors A child with ADHD can display are careless mistakes, and risky behavior, have a hard time resisting temptations and having trouble taking turns or getting along with people. (Center of Disease Control, 2019). There are many signs and symptoms that a person with ADHD can display, depending on which symptoms are strongest to that individual will help determine what type of ADHD they can potentially have. (Leifer, 2019)
ADHD can be characterized by three different types, based upon which ones are most related to the individual. One is Predominantly Inattentive Presentation, it is hard for a person to focus and to complete a task, a person may become easily distracted and can even become hard for the to complete daily task. (Center of Disease Control, 2019) . Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation is another type of ADHD, a person becomes anxious and is unable to sit still for long periods of time. Children are rowdy, restless and impulsive, often may seem attention seeking, they often can’t wait their turn or listen to directions. A child’s impulsiveness may cause them to have more accidents and injuries than others. ( Leifer, 2019). Combined presentation is when the above two types are equally present in the person. Symptoms can very well change over time so presentation can change also. (Center of Disease Control, 2019)
An increased risk for ADHD has been associated with a high and paternal diet (Muria, 2017); the prenatal environment; and maternal drug use. MRI studies of the brain children with ADHD reveal abnormalities within the prefrontal cortex and ganglia of the brain. A genetic factor has been identified involving disturbances the dopamine system—this has been labeled the “dopamine hypothesis” and it is the basis the development of the condition and the medication used to treat it ( Urion, 2016).
Diagnosis ADHD is not a single test it can mimic other diseases such as anxiety, depression and learning disabilities can all have similar symptoms. (Center of Disease Control, 2019) If you are concerned your child may have ADHD, the first step is to contact your child’s Doctor to discuss the symptoms your child may be having. A diagnosis for ADHD can be made by your primary doctor or pediatrician or also by a mental health professional such as a psychologist, or psychiatrist. The doctor will learn about what symptoms you have been experiencing during the last 6 months or maybe even over the period of life.
Screening for children and adults may vary, children screening focus on behavioral, emotional, and social problems. (Belliveau, 2016). There are many scales that can be used to determine and eliminate factors that may be associated with the child. A typical rating scale will have some question rating how a child may regret things, interrupt, avoid things and may easily be distracted by others. (Belliveau, 2020). Rating scales often have you score the child in that area, zero indicates never- four meaning very often. (Belliveau, 2016). If a child’s overall score equals a certain amount or the child presents at least six symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity, they may have ADHD. The symptoms are usually inappropriate for their age and must have been displayed for over a certain period of time. (Belliveau, 2016).
When a child is diagnosed it is common for the parent to have concerns about finding the right treatment for their child. ADHD is considered manageable, although ADHD can last the rest of your child’s life people have reported that symptoms improve as they age. (Belliveau, 2016) . The management is said to be interdisciplinary. Determining you have ADHD at a young age, can help prevent long term adverse effects of the disease. (Leifer, 2019) When determining treatment for your child, it is important to work closely with all parties involves with your child, such as teachers, coaches, other family members etc. (Center of Disease Control, 2019) Gathering data with everyone involved with your child can help you establish a plan of care not only inside the home, but it will help the school engage in strategies that can be more effective for the child. (Center of Disease Control, 2019)
Treatment for ADHD varies for every patient, but the main focus is that the patient receives the appropriate help and medication they need. (Leifer, 2019). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children with ADHD younger than 6years old should receive parent training in behavior management as the first line of treatment, before medication is tried. If the child is older than 6 years old, they recommend the behavior therapy and medication be used together. The goal for behavior therapy is to increase positive behaviors and eliminate unwanted problem behaviors. (Center of Disease Control, 2019) Behavior therapy for ADHD can include parent training in behavior management, behavior therapy with children, and behavioral interventions in the classroom. (Center of Disease Control, 2019)..
Strategies that can be used in the classroom for kids with ADHD is having the child sit in the front of the classroom to minimize distractions. ( Leifer, 2019) Give clear instructions and repeat them often to make sure they’re understood. Whenever necessary remind the child to focus his or her attention. Most importantly, provide breaks in between work or study ( Leifer, 2019) . Teaching techniques are important to know so these students can learn the best way possible.
Learning and practicing behavior therapy takes commitment, but it helps produce lasting benefits for the child and family. (Center of Disease Control, 2019) A therapist goals to the parent is to teach positive reinforcement, communication skills, helping designing activities for the child, along with monitoring progress and being able to provide coaching and support to their child. (Center of Disease Control, 2019). The purpose of the therapy is to shape the parent into being a good influence on their child because most children look up to their parents, and are not mature enough to change their own behavior without the help of their parent. (Center of Disease Control, 2019).
Medication for ADHD is another option but usually is known to be the last resort. After all resources have been tried and determined to not be working medication will then be discussed. The two types of drug used in treating ADHD are non –stimulants and stimulants, which are used to increase functioning and reduce symptoms in children as young as 6 years of age. (Food and Drug Administration, 0000) Stimulants contain various forms of methylphenidate and amphetamine, are known to have a calming effect on hyperactive children with ADHD. They believe stimulants increase brain levels of dopamine—a neurotransmitter associated with motivation, attention, and movement. (Food and Drug Administration, 0000). Between 70-80% of children with ADHD have fewer ADHD symptoms when taking stimulants (fast-acting medication) vs. Non-stimulants which is known to be slower acting but last up to 24 hours. (Center of Disease Control, 2019)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) approved many medications that can be prescribed for ADHD such as Concerta, Ritalin, Focalin, Dexedrine, Atomoxetine and Adderall etc. Three non-stimulant drugs used to treat the symptoms of ADHD are Strattera (atomoxetine) as mentioned above, Intuniv (guanfacine), and Kapvay (clonidine) These medications are great alternatives for children who do not react to stimulants well. (Food and Drug administration,0000) These medications are available in pill form, which is taken by mouth, and even by patch applied to the skin. (Findling and Dinh, 2014)
Medication for ADHD are known to affect people differently, some medications can work right away, but often times you must trial and error them. (Center of Disease Control, 2019.) Medications have many side effects,the most common being loss of appetite and sleep disturbances. (Center of Disease Control, 2019). The AAP recommends that “healthcare providers observe and adjust the dose of medication to find the right balance between benefits and side effects”. It is important for parents to work closely with their child’s healthcare providers to find the medication that works best for their child. (Center of Disease Control, 2019).
The FDA approved drugs on the market have all been trialed for safety and effectiveness in children 6 and older. The FDA is now currently trying to do trials in children ages 4 to 5 years of age now. They’ve stated, “We know ADHD medications are being prescribed for younger children, and we think it’s essential that the data from clinical studies reflect the safety and effectiveness for this age group”. ADHD can reflect serious consequences if left untreated (Food and Drug Administration, 0000) Studies have shown that “children with untreated ADHD have more emergency room visits and are more likely to have self-inflicted injuries than those treated for the disorder. Untreated adolescents with ADHD are more likely to take risks, such as drinking and driving. And they have twice as many motor vehicle accidents as those who are treated”. (Food and drug administration, 0000).
In addition to behavior therapy and medication, living a healthy lifestyle is important. . Developing good eating habits by increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains into your diet. (Center of Disease Control, 2019). Monitor time on electronics such as games, Tv, computers etc. It is very important a child is getting adequate sleep for their age and participating in daily activities. (Center of Disease Control, 2019) By doing these things it can also help with the managing process of ADHD.
Studies show that the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD continues to climb, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “About 11% of children ages 4 to 17 (6.4 million kids) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, up from 7.8% in 2003, according to the CDC.Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. Boys also are more likely to have the hyperactive-impulsive type, which is easier to spot than the quieter child who is inattentive.”
If you notice that your child has been displaying some of the symptoms previous stated, and It is happening more than usual I would advise you to call your Primary care physician and set an appointment. ADHD can not only affect your child, but it can have a significant impact on you, the parent as well.
- Center of Disease Control
- Leifer, G. (2019). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Learning Disabilities
- CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Medical News Today – What are the symptoms of ADHD?
- Sesame Street Autism Blog – Karen Laws on the Importance of Treating ADHD in Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorder
- National Institute of Mental Health – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)