One in ten children in the United States suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Despite the fact that it is a fairly common disorder, there are still many misconceptions. Here are five things that you need to know as a parent or teacher of an ADHD child.
1. Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are hallmark symptoms of ADHD.
The majority of kids can be inattentive and impulsive at times. These symptoms must be present in more than one place, like at school or at home, to diagnose ADHD. The symptoms of ADHD must appear before the onset of adolescence. The symptoms may start as early as preschool, but many children are not diagnosed until much later. Hyperactivity and impulsivity are more prominent in younger children. High schoolers and teenagers often have more trouble paying attention. ADHD symptoms can persist into adulthood for some children. Some (perhaps up to half) outgrow them, but other people do not.
2. There are different types of ADHD:
predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation; predominantly inattentive presentation; combined presentation. The combined presentation of ADHD is the most common type for children with ADHD. This includes a combination of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Other children who struggle most with hyperactivity and impulsivity would get the diagnosis of ADHD-hyperactive/impulsive presentation. The third group primarily has attention problems. These children are often referred to as having ADD, but the correct term for them is ADHD—predominantly inattentive presentation. Inattentive symptoms are more common in girls than in boys.
3. ADHD is a disorder of the brain.
Children with ADHD cannot overcome the symptoms by trying to “concentrate harder” or “pay more attention”. Brain imaging studies show that people with ADHD are structurally different from people without ADHD. The disorder runs in families. A 40%–60% chance exists that a child’s ADHD will also be present. A child’s ADHD diagnosis may be the first indication that a parent has ADHD.
4. ADHD symptoms can affect school, family, and social relationships.
Children with ADHD may have difficulty focusing and organizing their thoughts. It is possible that they lose their homework, are unable to organize their thoughts, and have trouble planning. It’s not uncommon for children with ADHD to also have learning disabilities such as dyslexia. This makes schoolwork more difficult. Although kids with ADHD do not have any specific social problems, their inability to regulate emotions and their impulsivity can make it difficult for them to maintain relationships. They may also have difficulty following social rules, controlling their emotions, or saying the right thing. Many aspects of family life can be made difficult by problems with planning, organization, and listening to what is being said. The relationship with your parents and siblings may require more effort.
5. Children with ADHD can benefit from great treatment options.
Research-backed treatments can relieve ADHD symptoms. Some of the most successful approaches combine multiple therapies, such as:
- Medication Although many parents are afraid to try medication, ADHD medications are among the best-studied in all of medicine. The most common stimulant medication prescribed is Ritalin, Adderall, or Concerta. These drugs stimulate brain areas that are not sufficiently stimulated. These brain areas are associated with thinking and attention. The goals of these medications are to reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and increase focus and attention.
- Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy helps the child become aware of disruptive behaviors, monitor them, and then modify them. The therapist will help teach social skills such as sharing, waiting for your turn, reading facial gestures, asking for assistance, and responding appropriately to tease. Cognitive-behavioral therapy emphasizes mindfulness and teaches children to be aware of and focused on their thoughts and feelings.
- Education and training Understanding oneself or your child can help parents better understand the effects of ADHD on the family. Teachers and parents can use tools to help children learn pro-social and positive behaviors. Adults can learn to deal with inappropriate behavior and promote positive behaviors. This can reduce ADHD symptoms.
- ADHD Coaching: An ADHD coach can help students work towards goals, view change as positive, improve productivity and function, and hold a student accountable. This is especially useful for older children.