What is ADHD?
ADHD is a common treatable childhood disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and/or inattention.
- Children with ADHD may display one or more of these symptoms.
- These symptoms usually appear before the age of 12 and during the first years of childhood (ages four and five). They continue for at least six months.
- The symptoms negatively affect the child at school and at home.
- Symptoms are not part of a child’s natural development.
- It is important to detect and diagnose these symptoms at an early age.
How common is ADHD?
- ADHD is quite common in children (five percent to seven percent).
- It is more frequent in boys than in girls.
- Sometimes ADHD continues into adulthood.
What causes ADHD?
- There is no single cause for ADHD.
- It is not caused by bad parenting or lack of discipline.
- It is usually a mix of biological and environmental factors. It seems to run in families, which means it might be hereditary.
What is hyperactivity?
A child who is hyperactive may:
- Always move around
- Move, touch or play with anything around him/her
- Talk continuously
- Get up and move around the room
- Shake feet or tap fingers
- Feel restless
- Need to be busy all the time
What is impulsivity?
A child who is impulsive may:
- Express things spontaneously without thinking first
- Show his/her emotions without restraints
- Fail to realize the consequences of his/her actions
- Find it difficult to stand in line or wait for his/her turn
What is inattention?
A child who is inattentive may:
- Have difficulty organizing and completing a task
- Have difficulty learning something new
- Be easily distracted
- Make careless mistakes
- Forget things
- Have trouble following instructions
- Skip from one activity to another without finishing the previous one
How is ADHD diagnosed?
The doctor or the psychologist diagnoses ADHD through:
- Interviews with the parents and the child whereby the psychologist asks about the child’s behavior at home and at school.
- Reports filled by the parents and teachers about the child’s behavior and attention in class.
- Cognitive tests on the computer to test the attention span (the psychologist might order these tests in some but not all cases).
What are the problems associated with ADHD?
The child or adolescent with ADHD might have other problems associated with this disorder, such as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Conduct disorder
- Speech or hearing difficulties
- Difficulties in reading and writing
Can your child be treated for ADHD?
Yes. There are successful treatments that help in improving the symptoms of ADHD and reducing the academic, family, and social difficulties.
Treatment may include one or more of the following:
- Psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Family support
- Educational support
How does ADHD affect children and adolescents if it was not treated?
- The child will feel down because of academic and social difficulties resulting from lack of attention.
- The child will find it difficult to establish and maintain friendships, which might lead to isolation and lack of self-confidence.
- The child will have academic difficulties and might not be able to continue his/her academic year.
School recommendations to help the child/adolescent with ADHD:
- Classroom arrangements:
- Place the child’s desk at the front of the class.
- Keep the classroom schedule known, so the child can expect his/her tasks.
- Giving instructions:
- Before each task, give the child instructions one at a time and ask the child to repeat them before starting the task.
- Give the child instructions individually or within a small-group setting. Reserve large-group settings for activities such as games, songs, and stories.
- Giving tasks:
- Give tasks that are short, varied and gradually increasing in length.
- For example, the child could be instructed to write an alphabet letter ten times on paper, make the same letter from clay, and then draw the letter ten times on a chalkboard.
- Giving breaks:
- Provide periodic stretch breaks during extended lesson plans. These are periods of three to five minutes of physical movement which occur after every 15 to 20 minutes of cognitive effort.
- Common instructions:
- Agree with the parents or home teacher on a signal, such as a tap on the shoulder, to bring the child back on task when he/she daydreams.
- Encourage the child to seek help from teachers or students when he/she does not understand an assignment.
Home recommendations to help the child/adolescent with ADHD:
- Establishing and maintaining a routine at home:
- Set a specific time and place for lunch and dinner. Playtime with siblings, bedtime, and studying time should also be set at a specific time and place.
- Establish clear and simple rules at home and write them down where your child can see them and remember them.
- Let your child study in a quiet place, dedicated for studying only, without outside distractions or interruptions.
- Maintain eye-contact when giving instructions and let your child repeat the instructions.
- It is better to write rules in a positive way rather than a negative one. For example: “Have lunch in the kitchen” instead of “Don’t eat lunch in the sitting room.”
- When your child follows the rules, praise him/her with positive statements such as “Good for you, bravo!”
- When your child doesn’t follow rules, remind him/her gently but firmly.
- Short tasks:
- Divide longer tasks into smaller parts that can be completed at different times.
- Set specific time limits for each task and allow your child to check his/her progress with a watch.
- Giving breaks:
- Allow your child to take periodic stretch breaks. These are periods of three to five minutes of physical movement which occur after every 15 to 20 minutes of cognitive effort.
- Encourage your child to ask questions and monitor him/her while studying