Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder and is marked by a pattern of hyperactivity, inability to focus on simple tasks and/or impulsive behaviour. This condition typically affects young children and teenagers but can also continue into adulthood.
Currently, there is no known cure for ADHD but there are plenty of options that can help your child manage the symptoms. Dr Leo Hamilton from Kids Clinic @ Novena breaks down the various therapeutic options available in Singapore to manage ADHD in children. The most common is medications, primarily one form of methylphenidate. Medications, however, are not always the best choice, especially in younger children; in such cases, counselling and behavioural therapies can also help.
Medications to Manage ADHDMethylphenidate is a long-established and probably the best-known treatment. It has many different forms, from the classic short-acting Ritalin to forms that can last about 8 to 14 hours.
What is Ritalin?Ritalin, a short-acting methylphenidate (i.e. its effect only lasts for a short timeframe) is not as commonly used as it was years ago because it only lasts 4-6 hours. Due to its short duration of action, most children would need another dose of the medication at school, which is not only time-consuming but also a potential social stigma for children to have to see the nurse all the time.
The longest-lasting forms of methylphenidate can last up to 14 hours (Concerta and Ritalin LA are the most common brands used in Singapore). These are helpful for older children and teenagers who need help focusing on homework, or impulse control in social situations. Often, children who have difficulty with family and friends because of ADHD benefit from a longer-lasting medication that typically lasts until bedtime.
Other ADHD MedicationsSingapore is still limited in the range of ADHD medications available. There are commonly used medications like Adderall and Focalin in other countries that are not currently available here.
Psychological Therapy or Counselling for ADHD in Children
Family counselling can help as well, mainly if behavioural issues are present that causes stress to the whole family.
Psychological Therapy or Counselling for ADHD in ChildrenThis is a slightly different approach. In behavioural therapy, parents are trained to use special strategies that would elicit the desired behaviour in their child. It is important to note when a child has ADHD, they often feel like they are always doing the wrong thing or what they are doing is not good enough. This method helps your child feel successful and supported in what they are doing.
In this method, good behaviour and correct actions are rewarded. Parents are also required to give feedback as much as possible to encourage their child; focusing on the positive is paramount. This aids in fostering your child’s confidence and competence in most tasks.
Talk to Your Paediatrician
There are many options for ADHD treatment, and no one way works for everyone. Sometimes, a multidisciplinary approach works best. If you believe your child may have ADHD, contact your paediatrician. There are well-established ways to confirm ADHD (mainly written questionnaires for teachers and parents). Blood testing and imaging (EEGs or MRIs) are rarely helpful and not part of the standard evaluation.