Every child is fidgety or forgetful sometimes. However, when children are perpetually inattentive or fidgety, it could indicate an underlying problem. ADHD is a fairly common neurodevelopmental condition that is often overlooked, largely because it can be mistaken for bad behaviour or indiscipline. By keeping an eye out for it, parents can secure treatment for their children early on and save them many years of stress and guilt. Here, we offer a quick guide on the signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that manifests in early childhood. It affects the patient’s ability to control their spontaneous responses, and leads to behaviours such as inattentiveness, inability to follow instructions, a dislike of routine, and a tendency to blurt out remarks. In many cases, children with ADHD also display hyperactive behaviour.
Symptoms of ADHD
A few instances of inattention are nothing to worry about, but consistent symptoms displayed at school and at home over a long period of time, warrant a closer look. Children with ADHD are likely to appear tuned out or bored when expected to follow a routine or complete tasks that they do not like. Some ADHD symptoms that may keep recurring include:
- Appearing demotivated and ‘spaced out’
- Trouble paying attention to anyone task for too long
- Jumping from one activity to another or skipping steps in longer procedures
- Difficulty completing projects, especially ones that they perceive as boring
- Trouble concentrating in a noisy environment
- Difficulty following instructions or remembering things like chores
- Difficulty organising personal space and planning ahead for things like homework
- Tendency to fidget when expected to stay still
- Tendency to misplace personal items
- Hyperactivity, such as moving around or fidgeting constantly or talking too much
Here, however, it is important to mention that hyperactiveness is not always present in ADHD. Many children are quiet and well-behaved but simply inattentive and apparently uninterested. Such children often have a tougher time, as teachers may mistake this behaviour for indiscipline and may reprimand them. They may also have trouble performing group activities or playing games by the rules, with other children.
It is understandable for parents to feel overwhelmed or even frustrated about their child’s ADHD symptoms. However, this is precisely why getting a diagnosis as soon as possible is so vital. Children are well aware of it when their parents are upset with them, and are likely to feel guilty and angry at themselves for causing that upset, which could lead to further behavioural issues.
The doctor can also identify if any other conditions or circumstances could be responsible for the symptoms. These include:
- Behavioural problems such as an attachment disorder
- A learning disability like Dyslexia
- Trauma from major incidents like a death in the family or parents’ divorce
- Psychological disorders like depression or anxiety
- Medical conditions like sleep disorders, thyroid problems, or epilepsy
Treatment for ADHD
There is no complete cure for ADHD, but treatment can help children manage their impulsive or inattentive behaviour, particularly when they are in social settings. Most doctors will prescribe therapy of various kinds, including:
- Behaviour Therapy, most prominently behaviour management, which teaches good behaviour and manners through rewards for completion and progress
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which teaches children how to rethink their attitude to a situation and thus modify their behaviour
- Parent training programs, which teaches specific ways to talk to and play with children so as to enable positive behaviour in them
- Social Skills Training, which uses role-play to teach children how to behave in social settings
- Psychoeducation, which involves both children and their parents talking about ADHD so as to properly come to terms with it
Another aspect that a good therapist will focus on, is teaching children with ADHD to harness their behaviour to their advantage. The tendency to think about multiple things at the same time could make for excellent idea generation or problem solving, if applied correctly. Various cognitive exercises can enable children to use this productively, improving their performance at school and enhancing their confidence.
It can be easy to mistake ADHD symptoms as simply bad behaviour or laziness, but it is important for parents to remember that their children cannot always help their condition. Therefore, parents should seek a diagnosis for their child and commence appropriate treatment, rather than scolding or punishing their child. The earlier the intervention, the better children can learn to manage the symptoms, which will benefit them greatly in adult life.