Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
Childhood ADHD -- attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder -- is diagnosed after a child has shown six or more specific symptoms
of inattention or hyperactivity on a regular basis for more than six
months in more than two settings. There is no single test for ADHD.
A doctor can diagnose ADHD
with the help of specific guidelines or criteria. The diagnosis of ADHD
involves the gathering of information from several sources, including
school, caregivers, and parents. The doctor will consider how a child's
behavior compares with that of other children the same age.
ADHD in Children
Symptoms of Childhood ADHD
Children with ADHD show signs of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity in specific ways. These children:
- Are in constant motion
- Squirm and fidget
- Do not seem to listen
- Have difficulty playing quietly
- Often talk excessively
- Interrupt or intrude on others
- Are easily distracted
- Do not finish tasks
Some behaviors can appear to be ADHD-related, but are not. Some causes of ADHD-like behavior are:
How Is ADHD Diagnosed?
child's primary care doctor can determine whether your child has ADHD
using standard guidelines developed by the American Academy of
Pediatrics, who say the condition may be diagnosed in children ages 4 to
Know, however, that it is very difficult to diagnose ADHD in children younger than 5 years of age. That's because many preschool children
have some of the symptoms seen in ADHD in various situations. In
addition, children change very rapidly during the preschool years.
process of diagnosing ADHD requires several steps and involves
gathering a lot of information from multiple sources. You, your child,
your child's school, and other caregivers should be involved in
assessing your child's behavior.
A health care provider will
obtain a medical history to help put a child's behavior in context. The
health care provider will also ask what symptoms a child is showing, how
long the symptoms have been occurring, and how the behavior affects a
child and his or her family. The health care provider will also conduct
a physical examination to rule out other medical causes for the
behaviors you are seeing.
Types of ADHD in Children
Doctors may classify symptoms as the following types of ADHD:
- Combined Type (Inattentive/Hyperactive/Impulsive). Children with this type of ADHD show all three symptoms. This is the most common form of ADHD.
- Hyperactive/Impulsive Type. Children show both hyperactive and impulsive behavior, but for the most part, they are able to pay attention.
- Inattentive Type.
Formerly known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), these children are
not overly active. They do not disrupt the classroom or other
activities, so their symptoms might not be noticed
ADHD Treatment Overview
of the child and family about ADHD is an essential component of any
treatment plan, which may encompass special education programs,
psychological intervention, and drug treatment. Be sure to discuss all
options with your child's health care provider to find the best
treatment for him or her.
Studies show that long-term treatment with a combination of medications and behavioral therapy
is far superior to just medication treatment, or no specific treatments
in managing hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and symptoms of
anxiety and depression. Those kids treated with both ADHD drugs and
therapy also had better social skills.
Drugs for Childhood ADHD
A class of drugs called psychostimulants, or stimulants for short, is a highly effective treatment for childhood ADHD. These medicines, including Adderall, Concerta, Daytrana, and Ritalin, help children to focus their thoughts and ignore distractions.
Another treatment used to treat ADHD in kids is nonstimulant medication. These medications include Intuniv, Kapvay, and Strattera.
medicines are available in short-acting (immediate-release),
intermediate-acting, and long-acting forms. It may take some time for a
physician to find the best medication, dosage, and schedule for an
individual with ADHD. ADHD drugs sometimes have side effects, but these
tend to happen early in treatment. Usually, side effects are mild and
Behavioral Treatments for Children With ADHD
treatment for children with ADHD involves adjusting the environment to
promote more successful social interactions. Such adjustments include
creating more structure, encouraging routines, and clearly stating
expectations of the child with ADHD.
Other forms of ADHD treatment that may benefit the child include:
- Social skills training. This can help a child with ADHD learn behaviors that will help them develop and maintain social relationships.
- Support groups and parenting skills training. Education and support for the parents can be an integral part of treating ADHD in children.
What Treatment Is Best for My Child?
children with ADHD, no single treatment is the answer for every child. A
child may have undesirable side effects to a medication, making a
particular treatment unacceptable. If a child with ADHD also has anxiety
or depression, a treatment combining medication and behavioral therapy
might be best. Each child's needs and personal history must be carefully
considered. It is important to work with a physician to find the best solution for your child.
The ADHD Coach?
is a relatively new field in the treatment of ADHD in children. ADHD
coaches are meant to help children achieve better results in different
areas of their lives by setting goals and helping the child find ways to
reach them. A child, however, must be mature and motivated enough to
work with a coach