ADHD In Children

1 What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD or attention deficit disorder in short) in children is a mental disorder characterized by hyperactivity and inattentiveness that affects the child’s ability to learn and mingle with others.

It appears in early childhood. These children find it difficult to sit still for some time, or fail to listen to others.

They are often labeled as undisciplined or lazy in school. Children with ADD are usually unable to control their impulsiveness.

They perform poorly in school and fail to have good relationships. The symptoms may reduce with time in some of them, while in others, they persist.

Learning strategies that assist with the symptoms of ADHD can help them to be successful.

Medications and behavioral treatment strategies are used to relieve the symptoms of this disorder.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children are not very specific and hence it is often undiagnosed.

Some common signs of this disorder are:

  • Inability to understand other people’s needs – children with ADHD often intrude or interrupt others while talking or working. They find it difficult to wait their turn in class or during a game.
  • Failure to keep emotions under control – temper tantrums are common in younger children, and more so in children with this disorder. They often find it difficult to keep it under control and have outbursts at inappropriate times.
  • Inability to sit still – squirming and fidgeting is one of the common symptoms of ADHD. They fail to sit still for periods of time.
  • Not finishing tasks – children with ADHD have varied interests but do not finish them, whether it be homework, chores, hobbies, or projects. They move on to the next thing that catches their interest before finishing the task at hand.
  • Inattentiveness – they find it hard to pay attention and may not be able to repeat what was just told to them.
  • Carelessness – as they are unable to focus on one thing or be still for some time, they end up making careless mistakes.
  • Day dreaming – they may be less involved in tasks when compared to others. Some children may stare into space and ignore their surroundings.

3 Causes

The actual cause of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children is not yet identified.

A number of factors are considered to be responsible for the development of this disorder. This includes:

  • Genetics – ADHD runs in families, and genes are thought to play an important role in its development.
  • Brain function – studies show that people with ADHD have different brain structure and developmental speed when compared to others.
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Brain damage before birth or within few days of delivery
  • Exposure to toxins

4 Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children is based on the characteristic symptoms of the disorder.

Doctors may ask about the different symptoms and the time that they started.

Information on the family's medical history and school reports help in evaluating the chances of the child having ADHD.

Diagnosis is based on the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Rating scales are also used to assess the child. For younger children, diagnosis may be done by a specialist.

5 Treatment

Medication, training and counseling are the standard treatment strategies for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children.

Although these treatments may not completely cure the disorder, they help in alleviating the symptoms to a large extent.

Medications

Psychostimulants are recommended to improve inattentiveness and hyperactivity.

Amphetamines and methylphenidates are the commonly suggested psychostimulants in the treatment of ADHD.

The recommended dose depends on the symptoms and the health of the child.

Antidepressants, guanfacine, clonidine, and atomoxetine are also used in controlling symptoms of this disorder.

Behavior Therapy

Counseling and behavior therapy focus on strategies that change the behavior of the affected child. This helps to control the impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

In older children, psychotherapy is used to control their negative behavior and to help them deal with these issues.

Social skills training helps the child to mingle effectively and to develop good social behavior.

6 Prevention

There is no clear cut way to prevent Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children.

As this disorder is linked to complications during pregnancy, a healthy diet and regular checkups can go a long way in preventing the development of ADHD.

Pregnant women should avoid smoking and the use of alcohol and drugs.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

None of the alternative remedies used for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children have any scientific evidence for their effectiveness.

Some of the common alternative therapies used are yoga, meditation, dieting, vitamin supplements, mineral supplements, essential fatty acids and exercise.

Stramonium, Cina and Hyoscyamus niger are prescribed in homeopathy to control specific symptoms of this disorder.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children.

ADHD treatment works best with the support of family and friends.

Strategies for coping should be planned out as a team with active involvement of parents, teachers, friends, and doctors.

Understanding and supporting the efforts in controlling the symptoms is very important for successful treatment.

Regular checkups are very effective in assessing improvement of the child.

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children.

Poor performance in school can make it very difficult for the child to succeed academically.

Children with ADHD are more prone to accidents and injuries due to carelessness and lack of attention.

They may have a low self-esteem and trouble mingling with peers inside and outside of school.

They also have a high risk of becoming a drug or alcohol addict.

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