- Have you ever had difficulty listening to a speaker, following directions, keeping on task or finishing tasks before moving to the next, or keeping track of personal items?
- Do you ever avoid activities that require sustained concentration or that might be boring?
- Can you sit still without figiting or wanting to do something else?
- Do you constantly interrupt or talk excessively and find it difficult to stay quiet?
My guess is that you answered yes to some or all of these questions. It’s normal for everyone to daydream occasionally, interrupt a conversation on occasion, or forget where you put your car keys once in a while, but when it becomes chronic, it affects one’s emotions, relationships, and the ability to succeed.
These are all symptoms of ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD used to be known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD and was renamed in 1994) and is thought to be hereditary. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3% to 5% of kids today have ADHD. Others believe that figure could be as high as 10%. Only half of ADHD children are diagnosed; only one in four are treated; only one in eight are treated to complete remission of symptoms.
The inability to pay attention is the main symptom of ADHD. Coupled with hyperactivity and impulsiveness, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that prevents children from being able to focus and pay attention which often results in poor school performance and behavior problems and may increase the risk of childhood depression and anxiety disorders.
While there are no lab tests to detect ADHD, teacher assessments and referrals, family’s description of daily behaviors, and patient’s responses to questions are all used to formulate a picture. With ADHD, a child must display some combination of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity for at least six months to a degree that is inappropriate and inconsistent with his or her age. Onset of the symptoms need to have appeared no later than age 7.
For grandparents involved in their grandchildren’s lives, it’s very common that they are among the first to detect signs of problems relating to behavior and learning. Mentioning these observations to the parents may be helpful in early detection and intervention, which could help your grandkids lead healthier and more successful lives.
While hyperactivity is the most obvious sign of ADHD, daydreaming and inattention are symptoms that are just as common but often missed. ADHD is not a lack of intelligence or skill. It is the inability to get things done on time.
The biggest risk to people who have ADHD is not being treated. Studies suggest that a combination of stimulant medications and counseling can help increase a child’s attention span while controlling hyperactivity and impulsive behavior in 70-80% of patients by providing parents with supportive strategies and teaching the child how to handle frustrations and build self-esteem.
Among the strategies a parent can use is to introduce routine and structure into the home environment and limit the amount of TV. Children learn boundaries, know what to expect, and can learn to stay on task with rewards.
The downside to medication is some of the side effects, which may cause depression, nausea, or zombie-like responses. ADHD Medication Chart shows what side effects can be expected with the various medications. The preferred treatments for ADHD are exercise, diet, proper sleep, stress management and coaching.
Some doctors believe diet modification may help reduce symptoms of ADHD. They recommend introducing high-protein “brain foods” such as eggs, nuts, meats, beans to improve concentration and replacing simple carbs, like candy and white bread, with complex carbs, like pears and whole-grain bread. While there is no conclusive medical results to indicate that sugar is a cause of ADHD, experience has taught me that sugar causes kids to bounce off walls. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some food additives may worsen the symptoms of ADHD and other researchers recommend avoiding red and yellow food colorings, MSG, and aspartame.
- CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
- ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association)
- National Resource Center on AD/HD
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