Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in children. Children with ADHD are hyperactive, unable to control their impulses or have problems staying focused.
ADHD is more commonly seen in boys than girls and can interfere with their daily life by affecting a child’s ability to learn. This can result in a lower self-esteem and problems socialising with others.
What Causes ADHD?
While conclusive research has not been done to fully understand the causes of ADHD, child experts believe there are several factors which contribute to the development of the condition.
Research has suggested that ADHD may be hereditary. A child is at higher risk of ADHD if both parents and a sibling have been previously diagnosed with ADHD. However, the role of genetics in ADHD is thought to be complex rather than due to a single faulty gene.
Studies have also shown there are several differences in the brains of ADHD individuals as compared to those who do not have the condition. Some studies have identified that in children with ADHD, certain areas of the brain appear to be smaller, the brain matures at a slower rate, and there may be chemical imbalances in the brain as compared to children who do not have the condition.
Other possible causes of ADHD might be attributed to:
- Consumption of alcohol, smoking or abusing drugs during pregnancy
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Brain damage either in the womb of first few years of life
- Exposure to high levels of toxic lead
Does My Child have ADHD?
ADHD is generally characterised by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The extent of ADHD depends on the predominating symptoms presented. More often than not, children with inattentive symptoms are easily overlooked as they may not display disruptive behaviour. The most commonly detected form of ADHD are in children presenting all three symptoms.
Signs of inattentiveness in children with ADHD:
- Easily distracted, have problems staying focused
- Have difficulty completing a given task
- Appears uninterested or does not listen when spoken to
- Have difficulty recalling or following instructions
Signs of hyperactivity in children with ADHD:
- Constantly fidgeting
- Have trouble staying still or playing quietly
- May talk excessively
- May have a quick temper
Signs of impulsivity in children with ADHD:
- Acting without thinking
- Interrupts other people’s conversations or activities
- Unable to control their emotions, resulting in tantrums or outbursts
7 Tips on Caring for a Child with ADHD
- Organise a schedule at home
Establish a timetable with specific times for each daily activity (waking up, meal time, play time, study time, sleeping). Explain the changes in routine to your child beforehand and make sure he or she understands the schedule.
- Set up rules
Give clear and short rules – and make sure to explain the rules to your child clearly. Your child must also understand the consequence of breaking rules – punishments should be carried out firmly and consistently if rules are broken.
- Be positive
Tell your child what you expect from them. Instead of blaming your child for making mistakes, praise and reward them regularly for every good behaviour observed.
- Make sure your child understands your instructions
Ensure your child is paying attention and establishing eye contact with you. Give simple and short instructions in a clear and calm voice, and ask your child to repeat the instructions back to you. Give one instruction at a time and praise your child when they are able to accomplish the task successfully.
- Be consistent
Always deliver what you have promised. Follow through with punishments if your child has broken a rule, or a reward for good behaviour carried out.
- Make sure your child is not left alone
Children with ADHD can be impulsive and require constant supervision as compared to other children.
- Accept your child
Instead of focusing on how your child is different from other children, practicing acceptance is key. Feeling a parent’s unconditional love and acceptance will help your child immensely. Enjoy time spent with your child, celebrate small successes of learning or improvement, and do not compare your child to others.