ADHD in children – what is ADHD and how to recognise the symptoms

ADHD is a common behavioural disorder that affects about 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with it, though it's not yet understood why. Children with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what's expected of them but have trouble following through because they can't sit still, pay attention, or focus on details.

Of course, all children (especially younger ones) act this way at times, particularly when they're anxious or excited. But the difference with ADHD is that symptoms are present over a longer period of time and happen in different settings. They hurt a child's ability to function socially, academically, and at home.The good news is that with proper treatment, children with ADHD can learn to successfully live with and manage their symptoms.

ADHD used to be known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD. In 1994, it was renamed ADHD and broken down into three subtypes, each with its own behavioural patterns: 

  • The inattentive type, with signs that include:trouble paying attention to details or a tendency to make careless errors in schoolwork or other activities, difficulty staying focused on tasks or play activities, apparent listening problems, difficulty following instructions, problems with organization, avoidance or dislike of tasks that require mental effort, tendency to lose things like toys, notebooks, or homework, distractibility and forgetfulness in daily activities.
  • The hyperactive-impulsive type, with signs that include:fidgeting or squirming, difficulty remaining seated, excessive running or climbing, difficulty playing quietly, always seeming to be "on the go", excessive talking, blurting out answers before hearing the full question, difficulty waiting for a turn or in line and problems with interrupting or intruding.
  • The combined type, a combination of the other two type, is the most common.

To be considered for a diagnosis of ADHD:

  • a child must display behaviours from one of the three subtypes before age 12
  • these behaviours must be more severe than in other children the same age
  • the behaviours must last for at least 6 months
  • the behaviours must happen in and negatively affect at least two areas of a child's life (such as school, home, childcare settings, or friendships)

Although it can be challenging to raise children with ADHD, it's important to remember they aren't "bad," "acting out," or being difficult on purpose. They have difficulty controlling their behaviour without medicine or behavioural therapy.

Should you feel that your child might have ADHD, contact a specialist in the field when it comes to treatment – the Ben Alberts Company. The Ben Alberts Company will be able to advise you with regards to an effective long term treatment programme in dealing with your child’s ADHD. To find out more about the treatments on offer through the Ben Alberts Company, visit their website www.benalbertscompany.co.za

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