Understanding ADHD

What Is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms can differ from person to person and may include hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and an inability to control impulses.

adhd symptomsAlthough children and adults can have ADHD the symptoms begin in childhood. ADHD is more common in males and is usually discovered when young kids are having trouble paying attention at school.

 

Symptoms In Children 

Inattention

The ADHD Child:

  • Is very easily distracted
  • Will not follow directions or finish simple tasks
  • Often appears as though they are not listening
  • Tends to be inattentive and make careless mistakes
  • Has little interest in daily activities
  • Has problems organizing daily tasks
  • Finds it difficult to complete tasks which require remaining still
  • Tend to daydream frequently

Hyperactivity

The ADHD Child:

  • Finds it difficult to sit still and is very fidgety
  • Has trouble playing quietly
  • Is always restless and likes to run or climb
  • May talk excessively

Inability To Control Impulses

The ADHD Child:

  • Has trouble waiting for their turn
  • Tends to blurt out answers in school
  • Has trouble waiting to speak and may react abruptly

Symptoms in Adults (May vary with age)

  • Have trouble being organized, setting goals and managing time
  • Chronic forgetfulness and a tendency to be late
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Problems in their job
  • Difficulties controlling anger
  • Impulsiveness
  • Substance abuse
  • Being unorganized
  • Procrastination
  • Become frustrated easily
  • Suffer chronic boredom
  • Have trouble concentrating, especially when reading
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Problems in relationships

 

Causes

It is unclear what causes ADHD, but we know certain things which play a role:

The Family

There are genetic characteristics passed down through families, if either of the parents have ADHD the risk is substantially higher for the children to have the disorder.

If a parent has ADHD, a child has more than a 50% chance of having it. If an older sibling has it, a child has more than a 30% chance. ADHD statistics

Pregnancy Problems

Children born via difficult pregnancies, born prematurely or born with a low birth weight have a higher risk of having ADHD. Studies show that pregnant women who drink or smoke may also increase the risk of their child having ADHD.

In the Brain

The chemical Dopamine is thought to play a role. Its job is to carry signals throughout the brain and is linked to learning, mood, attention, movement and sleep.

Studies have shown that neurotransmitters in the brain work differently in people suffering ADHD. Certain sections of the brain may be smaller or less active in people with ADHD than those without.

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Diagnosis

ADHD is only diagnosed after the person has shown some or all of the symptoms regularly, in multiple settings for more than six months and has had the symptoms since they were 12 years old.

Depending on the type and severity of symptoms the person will then be diagnosed with Primarily Inattentive, Primarily Hyperactive or Combined ADHD

Before ADHD can be diagnosed your medical provider should complete a full medical exam including medical history to screen for other conditions that may be responsible such as

  • Recent major changes in their life (death in the family, divorce etc)
  • Problems sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Undetected seizure activity
  • Thyroid problems
  • Lead toxicity

 

Treatment

ADHD can be managed with medication and therapy including:

Special education

Special education can teach structure and routine. This has proven very beneficial to the ADHD patient and will help with learning difficulties at school

Behavior modification 

Is used to teach the ADHD patient how to replace bad behaviour with good behaviour

Psychotherapy (counseling)

Can help someone improve their self-esteem and learn better ways to control their emotions. Counseling may also be beneficial to other family members in learning how to cope with an ADHD sibling.

Social skills training 

Can teach things like when to share and when it is appropriate to wait and take turns

Support groups 

Are very underestimated, being able to share concerns, worries and progress with others in the same position is very beneficial to both the ADHD patient and the family.

 

For Kids

  • Stay Organized With a daily routine and schedule – include everything from when they wake up to when they go to sleep; include homework, chores, indoor and outdoor play time. Keep the schedule in plain site on the fridge
  • Organize everything, create a place for different items and keep them in the same place e.g. Toys, books, clothing
  • For school material use organizers and teach your child to write down assignments, homework or other requests
  • Be clear and consistent with instructions so the ADHD child is able to follow them
  • Always praise good behavior

 

For Adults

  • Create routines for all tasks
  • Create easy to follow lists for different activities
  • Use a calendar to schedule events
  • Use reminder notes
  • Have a special place and always use the same place for things like keys, bills and important notices
  • Break down large tasks so they are more manageable.

 

Remember

With ADHD you can still live a full, productive, happy life. Pay attention to symptoms and see a doctor regularly as you may need to change your medication and treatment plan every now and then.


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