Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder affecting the neurobehavioral element in children causing problems in behaviour. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD as it is commonly referred as, is categorised into three groups for easier diagnosis. These three groups are the inattentive group which is also known as ADD or attention deficit disorder, hyperactive/impulsive group and the combination group which is the leading case in ADHD.Also referred to as a chronic or a hyperkinetic disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is easy to diagnose because symptoms of the disorder are bizarre and obvious. Short attention span and very easily distracted are the main signs, but also overactive and restless or hyperactive behaviour is common. Hyperkinetic is often describing the extreme behavioural disruptions that most ADHD children experience.

More common than one would think but attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder affects around five out of every hundred children. These children are most likely to be boys, in fact four times more likely for reasons not yet discovered although a strong genetic link is now being proven. Accusations are being made but not yet proven that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can be caused by being born prematurely or mothers smoking whilst pregnant.

Although attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is recognised and diagnosed in children it is now becoming more frequent in adulthood. It is believed that undiagnosed children can carry the disorder through the transition into adolescence and then again into adulthood before it is realised. The human body in adulthood though is starting to adapt to cope with the disorder.

Children coping with ADHD
Children coping with ADHD are struggling to deal with inattention

Children coping with ADHD are struggling to deal with inattention which is the ability to concentrate when needed, hyperactivity leading to unconventional fidgeting and increases in activity. Lastly impulsive behaviour is proving hard for children to battle with.

Most mothers can recognise problems with their children and a child who is frequently irritable, always restless and emotionally immature are the first telling signs that something is not quite right. Lack of discipline and aggressiveness are also a factor. Most ADHD children show no sense of danger when playing and are unaware of risks of harm, clumsiness is also very common. Firm discipline and a clear outline of house rules are expected from parents as boundaries for behaviour can reduce frustrations at home.

Concentration at school and poor social skills are typical of ADHD children. If ignored and not diagnosed early enough then untreated attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can lead to children being lonely and withdrawn in the education setting, aggression, anti social behaviour in adolescence and violence in later life.

Contact your childs GP if you are worried about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. A referral to a psychiatrist is often the case and their diagnosis is usually based on detailed observations of behaviour. Do not be alarmed if you are asked as a parent to answer questions and fill out lengths of paperwork as this all helps lead to a quicker diagnosis.

Treatment for ADHD
Treatment for ADHD

Treatment for ADHD is readily available on the NHS in forms of medication to calm and reduce the symptoms and non medicated methods to combat the urges of the behavioural elements.

Non medicated treatment can help to regulate and reduce behavioural outbursts and control temper and in the education setting there is a range of support available from educational psychologists, speech and language therapists, physical therapists, one to one support staff out of the classroom settings. All teaching staff should be made aware of any ADHD children ad all good teaching staff will have strategies for inclusion.

Medicated treatments of ADHD are usually in the form of psycho stimulants which can dampen the hyperactive and aggressive behaviour therefore enabling the child to manage their own behaviour, although not without side effects, these drugs can sometimes cause headaches, insomnia and irritability.

Methylphenidate is a stimulant drug proven to reduce impulsiveness and hyperactivity whilst increasing the attention span at the same time, this helps the children to focus on tasks and concentrate better at school.

Dexamphetamine, also a stimulant drug is the secondary alternative when the ADHD children show no signs of improvement on the methylphenidate.

Atomoxetine is a non stimulant drug prescribed for children whom the stimulant drugs cannot help.