Parents and teachers often describe children who are excitable, boisterous or disobedient as hyperactive. The terms attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is used by the medical professional to describe a more severe and long-lasting problem in children. It is said that ADHD affect one in every 25 children and this is equivalent to at least one child in every classroom. ADHD also is diagnosed more frequently in boys than girls.
By observing any child both at home and school, most common signs are :
- often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
- often leaves seat in classroom
- often runs about or climbs excessively
- often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
- often talks excessively
- often 'on the go' or often seen/described as if driven by a motor
- often faiils to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
- often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores or duties
- often loses things like stationaries
- often easily distracted from tasks and play activities
- often forgetful for their age group in daily activities
- often dislikes or reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental efforts
- often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
- often has difficulty awaiting their turn
- often interrupts like in conversation or games
- often makes poor judgement and are accident prone
When your child suffers from poor achievement in school or has poor interactions with others, it may indicate a problem with hyperactivity. Hyperactive children are often considered naughty.
Parents should be careful not to mislabel their at times overactive, boisterous children as being hyperactive. Depending on their age and stage of development, a certain degree of exuberance, impulsitivity and playfulness are considered normal. When in doubt, do check with your doctor for an evaluation.
No one knows what causes ADHD. Too many possibilities to pin down the cause with certainty. It is usually not caused by:
- too much television
- food allergies
- excess sugar
- poor home-life
- poor schools
Making a diagnosis requires an experienced specialist assessment because there are other important causes of restless and inattentive behaviour. The diagnosis is made by recognising particular patterns of behaviour, observing the child and obtaining reports of their behaviour at home and in school.
Effective treatment for ADHD often involves a multidisciplinary approach, including medical, psychological, social and educational interventions. Most children with ADHD need some form of intervention. Stimulant medication is used to treat ADHD and it makes them calmer, more focused and less impulsive. It produce a short-lived improvement after each dose but it is not a permanent cure.
Although half of all children with ADHD will still show signs of the problem into adulthood, medications and therapy that helps children will also work for adults. As they grow up, with appropriate help from parents, teachers and doctors, children with ADHD become better at suppressing their hyperactivity and to channel their excess energy into more socially acceptable behaviour such as physical exercise. Many choose work that gives them freedom to move around.