Does your child have ADHD?

The number of young children being diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) has increased over the last decade. So what is ADHD, and why are more children being labelled with it?
The number of young children being diagnosed with ADHD has increased over the last decade.

So what is ADHD, and why are more children being labelled with it?

1. What are the signs & symptoms of ADHD?

More children are being diagnosed with ADHD these days partly due to the fact that we have become much more aware of the signs and symptoms.

For a child to be diagnosed with ADHD the following three symptoms must be present:
  • Inattention: the child does not seem to listen, is easily distracted, and does not follow through with tasks or activities
  • Impulsivity: the child acts before thinking and cannot inhibit urges
  • Hyperactivity: the child is always on the move, fidgets, chatters, or taps

ADHD can prevent children from enjoying every day life experiences and has a significant impact on relationships and family life.

Children with ADHD tend to lose their tempers easily. Often an ADHD diagnosis goes hand and hand with other learning disabilities such as dyslexia, anxiety, or depression.

Peers often reject these children, as children with ADHD do not behave in pro-social ways like, taking turns.

When relationships break down between adults and peers, problem behaviour can become worse because of social isolation.

2. What causes ADHD?

ADHD seems to have a neurological cause relating to brain chemistry.

It is not yet known what causes ADHD but it is thought that the parts of the brain that control attention, concentration and impulse control, work differently in ADHD children. This is most likely due to a chemical imbalance.

ADHD can run in families and certain genes can predispose the development of ADHD. Dysfunctional family environments combined with the genes predisposed to ADHD can manifest ADHD in children.

Where family environments are secure and good parenting skills are used, children predisposed to ADHD are less likely to shows symptoms.

The absence or presence of certain foods, does not cause, nor prevent, ADHD. A healthy well balanced diet, as with all children, is best.

3. How is ADHD diagnosed?

A “test” does not exist for ADHD, but a paediatrician can make the diagnosis based upon their own observations and the child’s history.

If you think your child may be affected, talk to your early childhood teacher, doctor or health professional in the first instance.

For a child to have ADHD, their behaviour should be the same at preschool or in home childcare as it is at home.

4. How is ADHD treated?

Medication and behaviour management techniques can be used to help children and families manage symptoms.

Many children with ADHD are given stimulate drugs, often Ritalin. It works by stimulating parts of the brain that control impulsiveness and attention control, so children are more able to stay focused and think before acting. Medication helps to control symptoms, it is not a cure.

The second part of treatment is to support behaviour management. Children and their families are helped to learn the best ways to manage difficult behaviours. This is sometimes called cognitive behaviour therapy.

It is thought that a combination of medication and behavioural management works best. Services such as Group Special Education are available to support young children and their whânau.

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Source: This article has been written by Creators, a nationwide service offering quality home-based care and education. Creators are passionate about seeing every child’s unique talent being recognized and nurtured.

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