ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders among children, affecting 3.5% of children worldwide. It affects two or three times more boys than girls. These symptoms often disappear when a child reaches adulthood, but it has recently been reported that symptoms may persist into adulthood for 60% of affected individuals. These symptoms must be present at school, home, or work.
There are several theories concerning the causes of ADHD, but one of the most widely accepted theories has to do with the brain's processing of information. There are no physical signs suggesting a person has ADHD. The condition can be identified only by looking for certain behaviors, which could vary from one individual to another. Thus the diagnosis of ADHD should be made by a well-trained clinician who will obtain a careful history from parents, teachers, and caregivers, and also by observing the child. There is no adult onset of ADHD; thus, the clinician must rely on information from adults as to past behaviors, specifically at school and home. There are questionnaires for parents and teachers that are helpful for the clinician in making such a diagnosis. The most common behaviors fall into the following three categories, or combination thereof:
- Inattentive – An inability to focus on a project for very long, unless it is an activity the person enjoys.
- Hyperactivity – Constant activity or talking. Acting restless or unable to sit still. Bouncing from one activity to the next.
- Impulsivity – Not thinking before speaking. Not able to curb an immediate reaction.
Not everyone who has these symptoms is diagnosed with ADHD. There are ADHD lookalikes/co-morbid conditions that need to be ruled out before making such a diagnosis. Some of these conditions are mood disorder, anxiety disorder, learning disability, substance abuse, behavioral problems, traumatic events, abuse or neglect, situational crisis, poor parenting, developmental disorders, mental retardation, or borderline intellectual functioning.
It is important to consider all possibilities before establishing a diagnosis. ADHD Screening Tool.
Treatment of ADHD should incorporate a variety of resources including school, family, psychosocial intervention, and medication for those with moderate-to-severe symptoms. Medication is effective but is typically enhanced by behavior management. Traditional one-on-one counseling targeting specific symptoms of ADHD is usually ineffective. However, it is helpful in dealing with co-morbid issues.
The best treatment intervention may include a team approach including the child, parent, and school in a structured behavior setting, and medication management, if needed.
Speak with your child’s pediatrician about your concerns or call Human Behavior Institute for more information. Contact us; we are here to help.