A Parent’s Guide to ADHD in Children

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, and impulsive behavior. While many kids can be restless or unfocused at times, in children with ADHD these behaviors are more severe and happen in multiple settings, like home and school. ADHD can significantly impact a child’s academic performance and social relationships if untreated.

What Causes ADHD?

The exact causes of ADHD are unknown, but research suggests genetics play a major role. ADHD often runs in families. Other factors like brain structure, neurotransmitter activity, and environmental factors may also contribute to the development of ADHD. Contrary to popular belief, diet and nutrition have not been shown to cause ADHD. However, maintaining a balanced diet is still important for children with ADHD. Interestingly, ADHD is more prevalent in boys than girls, though it’s unclear why.

Getting an ADHD Diagnosis

There is no single test for ADHD. A diagnosis requires a comprehensive evaluation by a pediatrician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other properly trained clinician. Input from parents and teachers is crucial, as they can describe the child’s behaviors in different settings. The clinician will take a developmental history, rule out other possible conditions, and assess if the core symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are present across multiple settings. Formal observation, questionnaires and psychological testing may be used.

For a diagnosis, some impairing symptoms must be present before age 12, though ADHD is most commonly identified when kids start grade school and have difficulties sitting still, focusing, following instructions, and controlling impulses in class.

ADHD Treatment Options

While there is no cure for ADHD, various evidence-based treatments can help manage symptoms. Comprehensive treatment often includes:

  • Medications – Stimulants like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamines (Adderall) are commonly prescribed to improve attention and reduce hyperactivity. These should be closely monitored by a doctor.
  • Behavioural Therapy – Sessions aim to teach parenting skills, school/work strategies, social skills training, problem solving and anger management. This can be done individually or in a group setting.
  • Classroom Accommodations – Children with ADHD may benefit from preferential seating, breaking tasks into smaller steps, frequent positive reinforcement and allowing movement breaks.
  • Organisation and Routine – Structure, reminders and checklists can aid executive functioning skills like planning and time management. Parents should set clear boundaries and expectations.
  • Exercise – Physical activity may help reduce ADHD impairment for some kids. Mindfulness training also shows early promise.

While challenging, with the right interventions and support children with ADHD can thrive socially, academically and emotionally.

Living With ADHD

Raising a child with ADHD can be tiring for parents. Siblings may feel jealous of the attention given to their ADHD brother or sister. Families should seek counseling services for coping strategies and emotional support.

Kids with ADHD often struggle in school due to attention difficulties and hyperactivity. They may be incorrectly labeled as troublemakers. It’s critical to get them evaluated early and arrange learning supports like tutoring, online tools and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

Though many children eventually outgrow their ADHD symptoms, for others it can persist into adulthood, causing problems with jobs and relationships. Adults may continue needing medications and therapy.

The key is to have compassion for the child with ADHD, as the behaviours are neurologically based, not intentional disobedience. With consistent treatment tailored to the needs of the individual throughout their lifetime, kids with ADHD can thrive and live fulfilling lives.

Photo “School” by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Health

Zoom Health is a leading UK supplier of Home Health Tests and Earplugs

You May Also Like: