ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed before a child is 7 years old and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have problems paying attention, being very active (called hyperactivity) and acting before thinking (called impulsivity); all of which make up the three different types of ADHD:
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. This person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines and may daydream excessively and lose things frequently.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, have trouble taking turns, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others, make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks, and have a hard time resisting temptation.
- Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.
Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.
Causes: Doctors do not know just what causes ADHD. However, researchers studying the brain are coming closer to understanding what may cause ADHD. They believe that some people with ADHD do not have enough of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in their brain. These chemicals help the brain control behavior. Research does not support the popularly held views that ADHD is caused by eating too much sugar, watching too much television, parenting, or social and environmental factors such as poverty or family chaos. Of course, many things, including these, might make symptoms worse, especially in certain people. But the evidence is not strong enough to conclude that they are the main causes of ADHD.
When a child shows signs of ADHD, he or she needs to be evaluated by a trained professional. A complete evaluation is the only way to know for sure if the child has ADHD.
Treatment: In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. No single treatment is the answer for every child and good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.
Need Support? Check out these links for more information:
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – Marcus Autism Center. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://www.marcus.org/Autism-Resources/Diagnoses-and-Disorders/Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder
Facts About ADHD. (2014, September 29). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html