Does your child have ADHD?
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is actually a collective term for a group of characteristics and behaviour patterns which are normally seen in one individual. The most common symptoms include impulsive behaviour, a short attention span, being easily distracted and restless activity. ADHD is also often linked to other disorders related to anxiety and sleep issues, which are usually made worse as a side effect.
You would often begin to notice the symptoms of ADHD at an early age, although they can easily be confused with other behavioural problems and don’t necessarily indicate an underlying condition immediately. When children begin school it usually serves as a catalyst for their symptoms to become more obvious, and in comparison to the way other children respond to this significant lifestyle change it normally becomes easier to spot the signs of ADHD. Children who have the disorder won’t normally adapt as well to being around new people and applying themselves to activities and learning at school, which can be frustrating for them as well as the parents. Between the ages of 5-12 is the time when most children would eventually be diagnosed with ADHD.
As children get older it is common for them to learn more control over their symptoms and improve their behaviour, and some people can effectively hide most signs of the disorder by the time they reach adulthood. However, this is not always the case by any means. Unfortunately ADHD disproportionately affects children with learning difficulties or other behavioural problems which can make their entire school life more difficult, and therefore struggle to adapt as well as other children even at later stages of their development.
It’s important to bear in mind that not all children who struggle to concentrate and pay attention are going to have problems later in life, and most phases of behavioural problems do not lead to an ADHD diagnosis. A specialist will be able to judge the difference over a period of time, so if you are unsure it’s important to ask for support from your GP and other professionals. This is also the best course of action if in adult life you suspect you suffer from ADHD which was never diagnosed when you were younger.
Rough estimates suggest around 2-5% of the population could be affected by the disorder, so it isn’t that rare and the chances are there are millions of people living with ADHD and no proper diagnosis or help. There is little concrete information about the origins of the disorder, but we do know that it is genetic so a family history makes it more likely that an individual will be diagnosed. Problems during pregnancy have also been tentatively linked to ADHD, including drug or alcohol abuse.
ADHD is treatable and manageable although there is no cure as such. Behavioural therapy can be beneficial for both children and adults, although medication to help counteract the strong feelings associated with the disorder is the most common option. Day-to-day life can be disrupted when living with ADHD, but with a good balance of helpful medication and a supportive network of family and friends, many children grow up to live comfortably with their disorder.