Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition and frequently coexists with other emotional, behavioral, developmental and physical conditions. This problem causes major academic and social issues for your child and stress for your family. Children who are having difficulty with attention span, distractibility, impulsivity, motor restlessness and work completion need to be evaluated for ADHD.
Children, teens and adults can all have ADHD. No one is certain what causes ADHD. It likely comes from a combination of things including genes, exposure to lead, smoking and alcohol, certain brain injuries and other environmental exposures.
Children with ADHD get distracted easily and have difficulty listening to and following directions. They move from one activity to another too quickly and seem to fidget and squirm. They are often easily distracted and unable to finish tasks. They tend to be active and prefer to run around a lot. They climb on furniture and in or out of cabinets. They have trouble keeping their hands to themselves. They may be very impatient and have trouble controlling their emotions. Some children with ADHD have the inattentive type. In this type of ADHD the child is not hyperactive. Their primary issue is with attention and being easily distracted. These children are more often girls than boys and can be easily missed because they do not stand out due to not having a high activity level.
Most evaluations occur between the ages of 4 and 18 years. Your first discussion of your concerns will be with your child’s pediatrician. Depending on your child’s age and symptoms, initial interventions including parent and teacher directed behavior therapy and medication intervention. The primary focus must always be on appropriate social, emotional, educational and behavioral accommodations as well as a physical examination to make certain there is no underlying medical condition causing the ADHD symptoms. If symptoms warrant a referral to a specialist who deals with ADHD may be arranged.
When seeking a specialty evaluation for your child with possible ADHD it is important you seek a professional trained in the diagnosis and management of ADHD. A thorough history will be obtained and a comprehensive physical and neurological examination will be performed. The evaluation may also include psychological and educational assessments and a review of prior evaluations and teacher reports. Further information including classroom observations and parent/teacher questionnaires may also be required.
Intervention options are targeted to your specific needs and the needs of your child. A collaborative multimodal treatment plan tailored to the short and long term behavioral and academic needs of your child is the goal. Children, teens and adults with ADHD do get better with the right treatment, guidance and understanding.