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What is ADHD
also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
This is a group of symptoms that are usually present from an early age. Most cases are recognised when children are 6 to 12 years old, but sometimes this is missed or attributed to being 'naughty'. It may be missed more often in girls as they often display more inattention rather than hyperactivity.
Symptoms may change with age, but can also continue into adulthood.
People with ADHD may have other difficulties with anxiety, poor sleep or social and communication difficulties.
1. Inattentiveness. This describes poor concentration, perhaps making easy mistakes in school work, being forgetful and often losing things, being easily distracted and daydreaming.
2. Hyperactivity. This is often seen in younger children and they may be fidgety, find it hard to sit still and prefer to always be on the move.
3. Impulsivity. This may be when the young person does not think before they act, for example shouting out the answer in class, interrupting people more than you might expect and doing 'silly' things before they think it through.
These features must be present at home and at school for an ADHD diagnosis.
Without treatment and support ADHD can cause significant problems for a child and their family. It may interfere with their ability to receive an education and they often don't reach their full potential.
We often see the impact on their self esteem. They are so often in trouble for their behaviour and often say they can't please anyone and so decide to stop trying.
They may take excessive risks and be injured through accidents.
There is evidence to support that untreated ADHD can increase the risk of coming to the attention of the criminal justice system, often due to shoplifting and petty theft, but also using illicit substances.
Increased risk of road traffic accidents is also a concern for young children as pedestrians and also as adult drivers.
How to get help.
Talk to your child's teacher to raise your concerns.
Share your concerns with the school SENCO (special educational needs coordinator)
Dr Sasha Hvidsten will see the child and family for an initial assessment.
An ADHD assessment requires a number of questionnaires to be completed by family as well as teachers from the school. Multiple information sources are collated to confirm the diagnosis.
If necessary further assessments may be suggested involving additional assessments from educational psychology, speech and language for examples
How is ADHD managed
First steps are to make sure appropriate educational support is in place.
Teaching assistant time can help keep a young person on track in lessons and this may be something that school can provide.
Sometimes this may only be provided after diagnosis has been made.
ADHD can be relatively easy to treat once the diagnosis is made.
There are two main types of medication used.
Stimulant medication such as methylphenidate, it has other names like Ritalin, Equasym and Concerta that you may have heard of.
Non stimulant medication called atomoxetine.
Medication can improve concentration and reduce impulsivity. It works very quickly.
Some families decided to only use medication during the school week and have medication breaks at the weekend and holidays. This can work very well.
Different therapies can be useful in supporting ADHD.
Psychoeducation is helpful to teach you and your child about ADHD and what it means.
Organisational skills can be taught.
Social skills training may be useful, to help you child manage different social situations.
Further useful information can be found here - Parent and carer leaflet - ADHD