Explaining ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can make it difficult for someone to pay attention and to control impulsive behaviours. It can be found in children and adults alike, though the symptoms may be more obvious in children where it usually begins.
The main symptoms are
- Difficulty paying attention (inattention)
- Being overactive (hyperactivity)
- Acting without thinking (impulsivity)
They may also:
- Lose things or forget easily
- Talk too much
- Have a hard time resisting temptation
- Fidget a lot
These symptoms can affect development, as children for example could have difficulty in concentrating on their studies, or completing homework. It could affect relationships as someone with ADHD may not listen or focus when they are being spoken to. Signs of hyperactivity could be being unable to sit still and this could again affect education and also employment as in these settings we are usually expected to remain seated; however someone with hyperactivity would not be able to do this and might feel the need to get up and move around or fidget and distract others by interrupting or by being in constant motion.
The causes for ADHD are unknown though recent research has shown genetics to be an important factor though other risk factors are being studied such as brain injury, exposure to the environment, and low birth weight.
As many of the symptoms can also present in those who have anxiety or depression, usually diagnosis will start with ruling out other conditions first, doing hearing and vision tests and then looking at the list of symptoms in relation to ADHD. A holistic approach should be taken so parents should provide as much information as they can to present an adequate history, and treatment should be monitored to assess any changes.
The treatment for ADHD in children is usually having behavioural therapy first and then if needed medication such as stimulants, non stimulants and antidepressants can be prescribed. Ideally children and adults alike should be encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle and adopt healthy eating habits, good sleeping and make sure to get enough physical exercise.
ADHD has no effect on intelligence however you may find some children with ADHD also have a learning disability and this could affect their confidence and make them anxious or socially awkward due to their obsessive behaviours and constant moving around. Dedicating 1 to 1 time may help with this type of situation.
Also if a child’s qualities are nurtured and if they are directed towards pastimes, subjects or careers that are highly stimulating and fast moving they may find it beneficial and do well. Allowing them to do and work on things that are of high interest to them can give them the motivation they need and can see them apply more concentration than something else that they might not be stimulated by.
In the case of children, if parents and teachers can give the right amount of understanding and focus on rewarding the positive and unique behaviours in the child and also find better ways of managing stress so that they can better support their child and in turn teach their child how to better regulate by displaying the behaviour. Support groups can often help parents who would benefit from connecting with other families and children with ADHD so they do not feel singled out or alone.
There are many well known adults who have ADHD and they have succeeded regardless and their stories can be inspiring in showing how they not only manage their symptoms but used them to their advantage in succeeding and empowering themselves.