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.
ADHDt has been called attention- deficit disorder (ADD) in the past. But ADHD is now the peference term because iy describes both of the primary features of the condition: inattention and hyperactive- impulsive behaviour. In some children, signs of ADHD are noticeable as early as 2 or 3 years of age.
Signs and symptoms of ADHD may include:
- Difficulty paying attention
- Frequently daydreaming
- Difficulty following through on instructions and apparently not listening
- Frequently ha problems organizing tasks or activities
- Frequently forgetful and loses needed items.such as books, pencils or toys
- Frequently fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
- Easily distracted
- Frequently fidgets or squirms
- Difficulty remaining seated and seemly in constant motion
- Excessively talkative
- Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others' conversation or games
- Frequently has trouble waiting for his or her turn
ADHD occurs more often in males than in females, and behaviors can be different in boys and girls. For example, boys may be more hyperactive and girls may tend to be quietly inattentive.
While the exact cause of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is not clear, research efforts continue. Factors that may be involved in the development of ADHD include:
- Genetics- ADHD can run in families, and studies indicate that genes may play a role.
- Environment- Certain environmental factors, such as lead exposure, may increase risk.
- Development- Problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development may play a role.
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.
There is no known way to prevent attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But use of cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs during pregnancy may increase the risk for ADHD.
Risk factors for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may include:
- Blood relatives, such as a parent or sibling, with ADHD or another mental health disorder
- Exposure to environmental toxins — such as lead, found mainly in paint and pipes in older buildings
- Maternal drug use, alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy
- Premature birth
Although sugar is a popular suspect in causing hyperactivity, there's no reliable proof of this. Many issues in childhood can lead to difficulty sustaining attention, but that's not the same as ADHD.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can make life difficult for children. Children with ADHD:
- Often struggle in the classroom, which can lead to academic failure and judgment by other children and adults
- Tend to have more accidents and injuries of all kinds than do children who don't have ADHD
- Tend to have poor self-esteem
- Are more likely to have trouble interacting with and being accepted by peers and adults
- Are at increased risk of alcohol and drug abuse and other delinquent behavior
ADHD doesn't cause other psychological or developmental problems. However, children with ADHD are more likely than others to also have conditions such as:
- Learning disabilities, including problems with understanding and communicating
- Anxiety disorders, which may cause overwhelming worry, nervousness
- Depression, which frequently occurs in children with ADHD
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, characterized by irritability and problems tolerating frustration
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), generally defined as a pattern of negative, defiant and hostile behavior toward authority figures
- Conduct disorder, marked by antisocial behavior such as stealing, fighting, destroying property, and harming people or animals
- Bipolar disorder, which includes depression as well as manic behavior
- Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive muscle or vocal tics
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. For preschool-aged children (4-5 years of age) with ADHD, behavior therapy is recommended as the first line of treatment. 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.