Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children and can continue into adulthood. Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses, or they may have trouble paying attention. These behaviors interfere with school and home life.
It’s more common in boys than in girls. Usually ADHD discovered during the early school years, when a child begins to have problems paying attention.
ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, too much sugar, or vaccines. ADHD has biological origins that aren’t yet clearly understood. No single cause has been identified, but researchers are exploring a number of possible genetic and environmental links. Studies have shown that many kids with ADHD have a close relative who also has the disorder.
Although experts are unsure whether this is a cause of the disorder, they have found that certain areas of the brain are about 5% to 10% smaller in size and activity in kids with ADHD. Chemical changes in the brain also have been found.
Research also links smoking during pregnancy to later ADHD in a child. Other risk factors may include premature delivery, very low birth weight, and injuries to the brain at birth. Some studies have even suggested a link between excessive early television watching and future attention problems. One of the difficulties in diagnosing ADHD is that it’s often found along with other problems. These are called coexisting conditions, and about two thirds of kids with ADHD have one. The most common coexisting conditions are:
Many kids with ADHD are evaluated and treated by primary care doctors, including pediatricians and family practitioners, but may be referred to specialists like psychiatrists, psychologists, or neurologists. These specialists can help if the diagnosis is in doubt, or if there are other concerns, such as Tourette syndrome, a learning disability, anxiety, or depression.
Although it can be challenging to raise kids with ADHD, it’s important to remember they aren’t ‘bad,’ ‘acting out,’ or ‘being difficult on purpose.’
The goal is to help your child learn to control his or her own behavior and to help families create an atmosphere in which this is most likely to happen.
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medicine and behavior therapy. When ADHD is comorbid with Autism or a related disorder, Applied Behavior Analysis intervention sessions can also be a good treatment. Any good treatment plan will include close follow-up and monitoring.