What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), usually show a poor attention span and a lack of impulse control. These children may not always be hyperactive. This neurological disorder is usually diagnosed in childhood once a child begins to start school life, but in some cases it can be detected earlier, around the age of 3 years. This is a chronic disorder, which has to be managed through a combination of psychological and medical treatments. If not managed, it impairs many aspects of a child's daily life, school life and social interactions too.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
The most basic symptoms of ADHD are excessive inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. The child could display all 3 symptoms in varying degrees. However, many children show heightened signs of either 1 or 2 of the categories, so a child could be predominantly hyperactive and impulsive, but not show signs of inattention, etc. Typically ADHD symptoms appear consistently over long periods of time, and start appearing around 3 years of age. The symptoms may vary depending on the environment your child is present in. A child with ADHD may also show signs of being disorganised when completing tasks, avoid tasks requiring concentration, and may show signs of forgetfulness and carelessness with personal things. Of course, these are things which even typical children do; the key here is to remember the frequency of such occurrences.
What should I do if I feel my child has ADHD? Who can I talk to?
The first thing to do if you feel your child is displaying unusual behaviour is to consult your paediatrician. Once he makes a basic assessment, he could guide you to a child psychiatrist who specialises in handling ADHD and other neurological challenges. There is no one testing method to determine whether a child has ADHD or not, but there are a series of psychological tests that will help experts determine and assess where the child stands on the ADHD scale. A thorough assessment can help them develop a plan to help you treat this disorder and aid the child in experiencing life as normally as possible.
How is ADHD treated? Is it a curable disorder?
ADHD is a chronic disorder, much like any other health disorder, and the treatments available work towards reducing the symptoms and aiding normal day-to-day functioning for a child. There is no one cure for the disorder, and a treatment plan needs to be designed keeping the child's individual case in mind. In case the child displays a very mild form of ADHD, he/she could flourish simply with some occupational therapy and some concentration techniques that can be mastered over time. Also in many cases, parents need to spend time with the therapists to learn how to manage their child appropriately, reducing instances of discomfort, and more importantly, enhancing opportunities to learn and improve functioning. Sometimes, medication is also recommended to manage ADHD on a case-to-case basis.