What is ADHD?
ADHD is a behavioural disorder which often becomes obvious in early childhood. The behaviours are due to underlying problems of poor attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Many children, especially under-fives, suffer from attention difficulties. They are restless and find it difficult to concentrate too. This does not necessarily mean they are suffering from ADHD. This may just mean that they developing their capacity for self-control, or they may have a processing disorder or Attachment Disorder. The inattention or hyperactivity becomes a problem when they are exaggerated, compared with other children of the same age. In order for a diagnosis to be made your child, they need to display symptoms at Home and at School. If your child is only displaying symptoms at home, then it is unlikely that your child is suffering from ADHD.
Is it Common?
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2 to 5% of school-age children can suffer from ADHD. Boys are more commonly affected than girls, although it is thought that girls are undiagnosed.
What Causes ADHD?
We don’t actually know, ADHD can run in families, there is also some correlation to trauma but often parents fell blamed but it is not your fault.
Symptoms of ADHD are divided into two groups:
Inattentive symptoms of ADHD:
- Makes careless mistakes
- Is easily distracted
- Doesn’t seem to be listening when spoken to directly
- Has difficulty following instructions
- Has trouble organizing
Hyperactive or impulsive symptoms of ADHD:
- Fidgeting or squirming, trouble staying in one place or waiting his turn
- Trouble playing quietly
- Extreme impatience
- Always seems to be “on the go”
- Interrupting, blurting out answers
- Can’t sleep or get off to sleep for hours
Some children exhibit only the first group ADHD of symptoms, and some exhibit only the latter. But the majority of those with an ADHD diagnosis have a combination of both.
What do you do if you are concerned?
Go to your GP or school nurse and ask for a referral to a Pediatrician, they are the part of the pathways process of ADHD, they will often ask you to complete a Conners Questionaire and will send it to your school. In addition, it is a good practice to offer a school observation, or you may be referred to an ADHD nurse. They will access whether your child may have a diagnosis. Symptoms need to be present in school and at home for a diagnosis. In my experience, Attachment Disorders and Learning Difficulties can mimic some symptoms.
For the under-fives, NICE does not advise medication but parenting programs, in the NHS, myself and other clinicians are trained int he Incredible Years which is a recommended Parenting Programme.
For the over Fives Nice recommends
The support should be ADHD focused, can be group based and as few as 1 or 2 sessions. It should include:
- education and information on the causes and impact of ADHD
- advice on parenting strategies
- with consent, liaison with school, college or university
- both parents and carers if feasible.
Medication is only offered if the symptoms are causing significant impairment.
Top Three Tips to help Performance by Mary Fowler at ADHD Resources
There are three essential conditions that help kids with ADHD improve their performance. –
1. Create a structure
Create a structure that helps guide his behavior with rules and routines. For example, with academics, the structure would be tasks matched to his skill level so that it does not drive him to frustration.
2. Provide frequent positive feedback
Provide frequent positive feedback about how he is doing. Pay positive attention to any behaviors or approximations that are done well. Reward progress, not perfection. Redirect him when behavior goes off the mark. I feel words matter, so here are some words to help you praise your child
3. Give consequences that are consistently linked
I cannot diagnose ADHD, however, have spent many years working with your children and teenagers with ADHD/ADD.