Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – An In-Depth Introduction

ADHD At A Glance: 

  1. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that has three key challenges: Inattention, Hyperactivity, and Impulsivity
  2. There are several therapies that can help the person cope with ADHD
  3. Research links ADHD to between genes and environmental or other non-genetic factors

Does your child find himself unable to pay attention in class? Does he constantly keep getting restless? Do you find yourself interrupting others or always on the move even when you should be resting?

What does ADHD mean?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition where the person struggles to pay attention and control impulsive behavior. 

ADHD has been described in 1902, however, the fact that it can carry forward into adulthood has only become recently known.

How does ADHD develop?

The disorder is usually not diagnosed until the age of 9, but symptoms begin before a child starts school. Parents often report that their children with ADHD cried more than other kids, were more irritable or slept less. 

Developmental milestones often occur earlier on. Kids could start running before walking! Children with ADHD are said to be “motorically driven” for they usually have trouble sitting silent. They may be clumsy and suffer from lack of coordination. They have trouble concentrating on schoolwork though their intelligence is usually normal, leading to poor performance. They could be impulsive and say things that hurt others. 

This behavior reduces in many with ADHD as they move into adolescence and adulthood. However, some may continue to battle with substance abuse, interpersonal problems, and personality disorders. Some adults even complain of trouble in concentration, impulsivity, intolerance to stress, overactivity, and quick temper flares.

adhd-attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder-1-child staring out


What causes ADHD?

While researchers across premier institutes for healthcare across the globe continue to study the causes for ADHD, the current research links ADHD to interactions between genes and environmental/non-genetic factors. 

Other causes may include:

  1. Genes
  2. Low birth weight
  3. Premature babies
  4. Injuries to the frontal lobe of the brain
  5. Difficult pregnancies
  6. Smoking, alcohol or drug use during pregnancy

Symptoms of ADHD

The warning signs for Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder fall under 3 categories:

  1. Inattention
  2. Hyperactivity
  3. Impulsivity

Watch out if 6 or more of the following symptoms in the three categories are observed for a period of 6 months or more to the level that it is inconsistent with developmental level and impacts social/academic life. For older adolescents and adults (age 17 or older), at least five symptoms are required:

Inattention – 

  1. Often overlooks or misses details, makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other work.
  2. Has difficulty in sustaining attention on tasks or play activities. Eg, unable to focus on lectures or conversations.
  3. Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly. Their mind is elsewhere, even when there is no obvious distraction around.
  4. Is not able to follow through on instructions and fails to complete tasks at school or work. 
  5. Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities. For eg, poor time management or keeping belongings in order.
  6. Ends up losing things essential for activities. E.g, pencils, wallets, books, keys, glasses.
  7. Often dislikes tasks and activities that require sustained mental effort. E.g, schoolwork, preparing reports, homework.

2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity –

  1. Fidgets with hands or feet, squirms in the seat.
  2. Gets up and moves around in situations where he is expected to be seated. For instance, during classes at school or office hours.
  3. Runs or climbs around when the situation is inappropriate. In the case of adults and adolescents, feeling restless.
  4. Is unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
  5. Is always “on the go”. E.g, not being able to sit comfortably for an extended time in restaurants, meetings, etc.
  6. Talks excessively.
  7. Blurts out an answer before the question is completed. E.g, completing others’ sentences, speaking without waiting for his turn in the conversation
  8. Has trouble waiting for his turn. E.g, while waiting in a queue
  9. Intrudes or interrupts others in games or conversations.

How can we treat/manage ADHD?

Medication:

Deciding if medication is needed is a tough choice for a parent. You and your child’s doctor should sit together and decide if medication will be a good choice for your child. ADHD medication helps reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity, enabling the child to work, learn and focus better.

ADHD medication is of two types:

  1. Stimulants – Researchers believe that stimulants work on the brain’s chemical, dopamine, which plays an important role in the ability to concentrate better.
  2. Non-stimulants – They take a longer time to work and help improve focus, attention, and impulsivity in a person with ADHD. Doctors usually prescribe non-stimulants when stimulants haven’t worked as expected or when the side effects are too hard for the child to handle or as a combination with stimulants to make the treatment more effective.

The side effects of stimulants and non-stimulants are almost similar – They include headaches, stomach upset, trouble sleeping, dry mouth, irritability, nervousness, and weight loss.

Therapy: 

Several therapy options can help your child cope with daily challenges. Talk to your therapist about what is the best choice for your child.

  1. Psychotherapy: It helps the child open about his feelings, explore behavior patterns and ways to make better choices in the future. A child with ADHD may face challenges in his relationship with authority figures, family and peers. Through psychotherapy, he can cultivate the ability to handle these relationships better.

Family therapy is a great way to come together and figure out how to work through disruptive behaviors.

  1. Behavior Therapy – It enables the child to monitor his behaviors and teaches him suitable ways to change those behaviors appropriately. You can as a parent also develops strategies to steer your child’s responses to certain situations in a suitable direction. For instance, rewarding him for positive behavior.
  1. Education and Training – Children and adults with ADHD along with their families need guidance on how to cope better with the concern. Mental health professionals play an important role when it comes to educating the child and his parents of what ADHD is and how it impacts the family. They also help the child and his or her parents develop skills, attitudes, and ways of coping with challenges, of relating more strongly to each other.
  1. Parenting Skills Training – Parents can be taught new strategies and skills that they need to encourage and reward positive behavior in their children.

For instance, a timeout can be used when the child becomes out of control. Take time to be with the child, try to understand what his interests are and praise him for his achievements and abilities. Another trick could be to use meditation and relaxation techniques to cultivate calmness and manage stress.

  1. Support Groups – They are a great way of connecting to parents who have similar concerns, establish a supportive network of relationships and also share ideas and strategies to deal with your child’s ADHD. It can be a relief for many to know that they aren’t alone.
  2. Stress Management – It can help parents deal with bouts of frustration and helplessness thus enabling them to help their child calmly and efficiently.
  3. Social Skills Training – This is specifically useful when the child exhibits serious problems in social environments and interactions. It helps the child learn new and more appropriate behaviors thus allowing him to play and work cohesively with others. The therapist could teach the child to wait for his turn, share his toys and not interrupt in conversations.

Talk to Your Doctor/Therapist 

Effective treatment for ADHD often entails a combination of medication and one or more therapy approaches along with behavioral practices you can use as a parent. The right treatment can help your child cope with challenges better. It can help them feel good about themselves.

To learn more and decide upon the best option for your child, talk to your child’s doctor.you can ask your child’s doctor are:

Will medication or therapy help my child better?

What kind of therapy is most suitable for my child?

What side effects of medication should I be aware of?

What are some good behavioral measures I can use at home?

Don’t ever forget, your child always deserves the best! And Trijog is always here to give you and your child the best of care and an abundance of love.

Key Takeaways :

  1. 6 or more of the symptoms in the three categories are to be observed for 6 months or more in a manner that is inconsistent with development. 
  2. Talk to your therapist about which combination of therapy would be best for your child.
  3. Be aware of any side-effects of medication and the various options that can be used to treat ADHD effectively.


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