ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a brain disorder that causes hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors in children and adults. It affects how you control your behavior and pay attention to different tasks.
People having ADHD face trouble while focusing or staying still for longer periods. This disorder is more common in boys than girls.
It can be spotted in a child during the early years of school. It is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of children in the United States.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder cannot be cured, but early detection can help your child cope with the symptoms and perform their task in a better way.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
Symptoms of ADHD can be categorized into three main groups:
1. Predominantly inattentive
A child with predominantly inattentive ADHD have the following symptoms:
- Can be easily distracted
- Unable to perform or finish the tasks
- Not able to properly listen and focus
- Make mistakes
- Unable to follow the guidelines
- Quickly forget
- Lack of organizing daily task
- Can’t sit still
- Loses the belongings
2. Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD
A child with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD shows the following symptoms:
- Face trouble when sitting for long periods
- Unable to play quietly
- Always move and climbs
- Interrupting the people
- Do not wait for their turn
- Difficulty while focusing on tasks
- Talk too much
3. The third type of ADHD is a combination of both types. This is the most common type of ADHD, and here the symptoms change as a person gets older.
The symptoms include:
- Easily forget things
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble focusing
- Trouble staying organized
This type of ADHD is treated by properly diagnosing it because it changes over time and treatment will also change according to the age and symptoms of the individual.
ADHD vs. ADD
Sometimes another term called ADD is also used instead of ADHD. It means attention deficit disorder. This term was previously used for individuals who face trouble while focusing but were not hyperactive. This name was officially changed and the term ADHD took its place in 2013. However, some people still use the term ADD instead of ADHD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity is a mental disorder. It is not a disability. It can interfere with your routine tasks and social interactions. ADHD symptoms may make it harder for you to learn. ADHD can also occur among those having any learning disability, but that doesn’t mean you have a mental disability.
To help the children and individual, parents and teachers play their part. Different strategies must be adopted, including a reward system, encouragement, a quiet environment, and extra time during the examination.
ADHD doesn’t cause any mental or developmental problems in children. But some conditions may coexist in an individual with ADHD.
Conduct disorder: a type of behavior disorder of children in which a child is anti-social and is irresponsible.
ODD (oppositional defiant disorder): a mental disorder of children in which they show angry or cranky behavior and are very incorporative.
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: a childhood disorder in which a child is extremely angry, irritable, and has a bad temper.
Anxiety disorders: cause irresistible and devastating nervousness, anxiety, and stress problems. It may also include OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).
Mood swings: include anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
Learning disabilities: problem with learning, reading, writing, and solving different problems.
Autism: a brain condition in which a person faces problems while socializing and communicating with others.
What causes ADHD?
It is not sure what exactly causes the condition – however, the experts believe that certain things may lead to ADHD like:
Genetic factor: Experts believe that one of the major causes of the disorder can be genetic.
Chemical changes: It may be due to chemical imbalances in the brain. Reduction of dopamine – a chemical in the brain that helps in moving the signal from one nerve to another, can be a factor causing ADHD.
Mental changes: It may be due to slow development of the brain areas that control the attention of the persons especially the children. Studies showed that people with ADHD have less volume of gray matter: the area of the brain that helps in decision making, self-control, and talking.
Malnutrition: Poor nutrition, drinking alcohol, and smoking may affect the brain development of the baby during the pregnancy of a woman.
Brain damage or disorder: The damage to the front part of the brain that controls emotions can contribute to ADHD.
How ADHD is diagnosed?
Most of the experts believe that there is no single test to diagnose ADHD. Usually, during the early stages of child development, it remains undiagnosed due to typical childhood behavior. A doctor will diagnose the disorder by collecting the information from the school and family. Your doctor will assess this information to check the symptoms of the disorder.
A physical exam may be done to check the other symptoms or any problem with health. If you see any symptoms in your child, talk to your doctor. If your child is unable to perform well in school, you can talk to the doctor or school psychotherapist. Discuss everything with the doctor and if recommended, go straight to an ADHD specialist.
Behavior therapies and medications are used to treat or improve the behavior of individuals. Usually, two types of therapies are used to treat the disorder.
The first one is psychotherapy where a specialist helps a child understand the symptoms or changes caused by ADHD. This therapy helps children manage and control their emotions in a better way. It encourages them to handle their emotions and improve self-confidence.
Another type is behavioral therapy where a specialist tries to improve the behavioral changes of the children. It tells the children how to monitor, manage, and replace bad behavior with a good one.
In some cases, medication is also used to treat ADHD. It affects the brain chemicals like dopamine to control impulsive behavior.
Types of medication
The disorder is usually treated with two types of medications:
The most common form of stimulants for ADHD include central nervous system stimulants. These stimulants increase the number of brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
Non-stimulants are usually prescribed by a doctor in case of side effects or if medication is not working properly for your child.
Few side effects are also associated with ADHD medications like:
- Loss of appetite
- Upset stomach
- Bad temper
These side effects usually get better with time. Your doctor may lower the dosage of the medicine to ease the side effects. It is always advisable to consult your doctor before starting these medications.
In addition to these medications, a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and proper sleep can also help your child improve the symptoms of the disorder.
You may reduce the risk of developing ADHD in your child by adopting the following preventive measures:
- Don’t do anything that can harm the development of the fetus. Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
- Avoid exposing your child to pollutants, smoke, toxins, and other harmful chemicals.
- There is minimal evidence that screen time affects a child’s early development. To be on the safe side, limiting screen time may assist to minimize hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Tips to manage ADHD
ADHD is a mental disorder, and it is quite complex to recommend a proper treatment that works for all. However, you may adopt different lifestyles and home remedies to overcome hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
- Children want to get attention and affection. Show them your love by tapping on their back or speaking a few words of appreciation and kindness. It will develop their confidence and self-esteem.
- You can always help your children improve their self-esteem and confidence. Not every child is the same. Different children have different abilities in which they perform better. If your child is better at performing sports or other extra circular activities, let them do that. It will eventually build up their confidence and self-esteem.
- Make use of simple words while giving instructions to your child. Speak slowly and try to give only one direction at a time.
- Identify the situations that cause trouble for your children, like sitting for hours in shopping malls or waiting queues.
- Develop the abilities of your child to stay organized by giving them short tasks at home. Help them manage their activities by supporting them. Make sure to provide a supportive and quiet place to help your child complete their school tasks. Teach your child to keep his room or playing space neat and uncluttered.
- Children with ADHD find it difficult to adhere to a routine. Help your child make routines and schedules to perform various tasks like naps, meals, and school work. Make a calendar, hang it on the wall or make a reminder board to write all the things to be completed at an appropriate time.
- Encourage the social interactions of your children by giving them rewards or recognizing their efforts.
- Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your child. Make sure your child is not exhausted. He is eating his healthy meals properly. Sometimes a nutrient-rich food along with exercise helps a child overcome the symptoms of ADHD.
- If your child goes to school, you may work with his teacher and therapist to improve his abilities. Ask about the routine tasks done at school. Help them complete their school tasks in a quiet and encouraging environment. A therapist at school should interact with children regularly to evaluate their performance. Different adjustments can be made like changing study methods, classroom setups, and presentation techniques to improve the performance of a child with ADHD.
- Stay in close touch with your children’s teacher. Encourage their efforts. Make sure that the teachers and school administration are doing efforts to bring a positive change in your child.
- Define implementable rules for your child. Give them the rewards and discourage destructive behavior. Don’t be too strict with your child as it may make him rebellious and destroy his self-esteem. You must allow your children to make mistakes as it is a normal part of life. Any critical or negative phrase or action might destroy your child’s personality.
- Help your child manage the aggression. If your child misbehaves in public, bring him to calm. Give him some time to overcome his anger. If this behavior is abusive or intentional and goes against the rules, then it must be punishable.
- Make your child’s life more organized. Maintain a nice and untidy environment in your house so that your youngster may understand how things work. Make things easy for him by simplifying them. Fix a comfortable and stress-free place to do his school work. Take a break and allow them to rest as the tiredness can worst the symptoms of ADHD. Limit the distractions such as electronics and mobile phones. Help your children build up their energy by encouraging outdoor activities.
ADHD can seriously affect the life and relationship of a child. Treatment is quite important to ease the symptoms of the disorder.
People with ADHD can truly enjoy a normal life by properly treating the condition. If you or your child have the symptoms of ADHD, your first step should be to talk to a doctor. A specialist will help you live well with the disorder by creating a treatment plan for you.