Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is primarily a condition that affects a person’s attention, as the person may appear distracted, restless, have difficulty concentrating, or is impulsive. Parents often share observations like my child frequently makes careless mistakes, my child has problems staying in his seat, my child is easily distracted by the smallest thing, my child does not appear to be listening when spoken to, and my child can’t seem to wait for his turn. It is a common misconception that children with ADHD perform poorly in school. Children with ADHD can have high intelligence and strong academic performance.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders as it is often diagnosed in childhood and continues into adulthood. ADHD is more commonly diagnosed among boys than girls. Boys tend to present with more hyperactive behaviours and girls tend to present with inattention. Although there is growing evidence to suggest that genetics contribute to ADHD, scientists have yet to identify a specific gene that causes ADHD.
There are various ADHD symptoms which can be confused with other conditions. At times, parents wonder if a child with boundless energy, has difficulty concentrating in class, or is often impulsive has ADHD or if he/she is just being a child? Other times, a child’s inattention could be due to a learning disability (e.g., dyslexia) or anxiety (e.g., feeling anxious and therefore not paying attention). Of course, it is possible that the child has both ADHD and another developmental condition. The clinical diagnosis of ADHD should only be made by a highly qualified specialist in order to accurately diagnose the underlying issue and rule out other conditions.
Early ADHD testing and intervention play a vital role in helping a child to succeed academically, socially, and in family relationships. The child can receive greater parental support at home, and testing accommodations in school. We also help the child to understand and manage their unique learning styles and help learn ways to better stay on task.
ADHD can impact every aspect of a child’s life, primarily school work, and it can also affect family interactions and friendships, and even self-esteem. In school, a child with ADHD may struggle to focus, pay attention, or to put effort into school work. A child with ADHD may also be disruptive, talk too much, or fidget in the seat. A child with ADHD also struggles with listening and impulsivity. As a result, they may have trouble following a series of instructions given by teachers and parents. Socially, the child may be impulsively blurting out comments, and therefore has difficulty making friends. An adult person with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD may face challenges with work and relationships. The impact of ADHD, however, can be mitigated with early diagnosis and intervention. It is possible for the ADHD individual to manage his symptoms and thrive in his daily life.
ADHD is a chronic condition, so a child with ADHD learns to manage his symptoms as he grows into adulthood. ADHD treatment involves a combination of both behavioural interventions and psychostimulants. Behavioural strategies equip parents with the skills to support the child at home. For school-age children, recommendations can also be made to support the child’s learning in school as well as to provide educational and testing accommodations. Treatment can help to improve symptoms and support the child’s functioning.