August 2012
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How to Recognize if Your Child has ADHD

While much gets made in the media about the merits of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), millions of kids in the U.S. suffer at home and at school because of the condition. ADHD robs those it affects of their ability to focus and pay attention, and makes most young children fidgety and easily distracted. Estimates from the National Institute of Health on the number of children with ADHD ranges from three to five percent, but many health experts suspect the number is actually closer to 10 percent.

ADHD Symptoms


The primary symptom of ADHD in children is an inability to pay attention. This causes many children to have difficulty listening, completing tasks, following directions, and not losing personal items. Children with ADHD may also find themselves frequently daydreaming, making careless mistakes, and avoiding activities that require high levels of concentration. These symptoms are why children with ADHD have trouble excelling in school, and are more likely to get into trouble with their teachers for being a classroom distraction.

Hyperactivity is another symptom of ADHD, which causes kids to constantly stay in motion running and climbing on things, even when indoors. When forced to sit still, kids with the condition tend to fidget, bounce, squirm, and talk excessively. This frequent hyperactivity also tends to make children with ADHD more impulsive, leading them to interrupt others while talking, blurt out answers in class, and cut in front of others when standing in line. Impulsiveness can also make it difficult for kids to wait their turn or to stop and think before they act.

In addition to doing poorly in school, children with ADHD also find it difficult to develop and maintain social relationships with others. A failure to make friends can lead to a child developing low self-esteem and cause them to engage in risky, attention seeking behavior. Children with ADHD are also at high risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders.

Causes of the Condition


While health experts do not know exactly what causes the condition, most believe that genetics plays an important role. Children with the condition possess less active areas of the brain that control attention, and may also possess an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Despite researchers inability to pinpoint the causes of ADHD, several treatment options exist for parents with children who suffer from the condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment


No blood tests or neurological scans exist that allow doctors to diagnose ADHD in a patient. Instead, doctors must rely on parent’s description of their child’s behavior, how the child answers specific questions, and how the child’s teachers assess them at school. For a child to receive an ADHD diagnosis, they must demonstrate a combination of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and a level of impulsivity that lasts for at least six months and that results in maladaptive behaviors inconsistent with their age. Children also need to begin showing symptoms of the conditions no later than at the age of seven.

Children who receive an ADHD diagnosis may be placed on medication to help them stay focused. Stimulants are often used to help increase a child’s attention span, while also decreasing hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. Most studies suggest that prescription medications work on 70 to 80 percent of patients.

Parents can also elect to enroll their child in ADHD counseling to help them learn how to handle the frustrations they experience due to the symptoms of the condition and rebuild their self-esteem. Therapy should provide parents with supportive strategies that allow them to help their child deal with overcoming their battle with ADHD, and studies have shown the most effective methods for treating ADHD combine both medication and therapy.

Helping your child deal with ADHD at a young age will make an enormous difference in their life now and in the future.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance writer that blogs about children’s health for Dr. Brett Johnson, an Oregon City dentist.

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