What is ADHD / Hyperactivity Disorder?
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD means having increased movement, impulsive actions, a shorter attention span, and being easily distracted. If you have hyperactivity, you may become anxious or depressed because of your condition and how people respond to it. Hyperactivity is often a symptom of an underlying mental or physical health condition.
Prognosis for ADHD
The process of formal diagnosis begins with an evaluation. Professionals call this an assessment. The assessment may or may not yield a diagnosis. If it does yield a diagnosis, it may not be ADHD. The process begins with the assumption of health and well-being. The assessment process begins to identify exceptions to that assumption. The deviation from healthy averages, informs the diagnostic process. It also yields solutions to problems that may be uncovered and identified, such as ADHD.
Treatments influence prognosis
There are many treatment options, and what works best can depend on the individual child and family good treatment plans will include close monitoring of whether and how much the treatment helps the child’s behavior, as well as making changes as needed along the way. To find the best options, it is recommended that parents work closely with others involved in their child’s life—healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, coaches, and other family members. Treatment for ADHD includes behavior therapy, training for parents, and medications.
1. Early detection and early signs
Children with hyperactivity may have trouble concentrating in school. They may also display impulsive behaviors, such as:
- Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
- Constantly fidgeting
- Being unable to concentrate on tasks
- Excessive physical movement
- Excessive talking
- Being unable to wait their turn
- Acting without thinking
- Interrupting conversations
- Little or no sense of danger
These symptoms can cause significant problems in a child’s life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.
Early detection and intervention may prevent or ameliorate the development of the disorder and reduce its long-term impact. If your doctor thinks the hyperactivity is caused by an underlying physical condition, they may prescribe medications to treat that condition. Hyperactivity may also be caused by a mental health condition. In that case, your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist. The specialist may prescribe medication, therapy, or both.
2. The diagnosis
Deciding if a child has ADHD is a process with several steps. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. One step of the process involves having a medical exam, including hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems with symptoms like ADHD. Diagnosing ADHD usually includes a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms and taking a history of the child from parents, teachers, and sometimes, the child.
A. Common causes of ADHD
Scientists have not yet identified the specific causes of ADHD. However recent studies link genetic factors with ADHD. In addition to genetics, scientists are studying other possible causes and risk factors including:
- Brain injury
- Exposure to environmental (e.g., lead) during pregnancy or at a young age
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
B. Common co-occurring conditions in ADHD
In general, individuals affected by ADHD often have other behavioral disorders that impact their ability to function successfully. About 60-80% of the time, someone with ADHD will also have another disorder (CHADD, n.d.). Likewise, about 25% of all children with ADHD also have a mood, depressive, or anxiety disorder (CHADD, n.d.).