If you’re a parent, you may be worried about your child and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Among children, about 13% of boys and 6% of girls are believed to have ADHD. All told, a 2016 study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 6.1 million children are estimated to have been diagnosed with ADHD. It’s one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, and it’s also subject to plenty of myths.
Rumors have swirled for years around ADHD, including wrongly held beliefs that ADHD is the result of bad parenting or that ADHD is a problem with motivation and not a real medical condition. These notions are false, but do you really know what to look for if you’re concerned that your child may have ADHD? Use this blog to learn what symptoms and signs may point to a diagnosis.
At Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics, we’re experts on ADHD, from diagnosis to treatment. In this blog, Nicolette Marak, MD, discusses what ADHD is, its common symptoms, and how it’s treated.
What is ADHD?
You may know ADHD as ADD, which is the disorder’s former name. The American Psychiatric Association changed the name in 1987 to better explain the role that hyperactivity plays. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests as a chronic condition.
It has three main hallmarks: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Inattention comes in the form of disorganization and difficulty with focus. Hyperactivity can be seen in restlessness and an inability to sit still. And impulsivity is marked by taking actions without thought or considering consequences.
When it comes to categorizing children with ADHD, they’re generally put into one of three types: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type.
ADHD and children
Despite the large amount of research into ADHD, its precise cause is still unknown. Experts have noted that children with ADHD have low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Additionally, scans have shown lower levels of brain metabolism in the areas of the brain that control attention, social judgment, and movement. There may also be a genetic component.
ADHD symptoms are most prevalent when someone with ADHD is a child. However, many cases continue into adulthood. About 60% of adults still exhibit ADHD symptoms, but with less frequency and fewer overall symptoms.
Symptoms can often differ by what type of ADHD a child has. However, common symptoms for many children include:
- Trouble with organization
- Lack of focus
- Trouble following instructions
- Avoiding tasks that require extended mental effort
- Unfinished tasks
- Trouble playing quietly
- Emotional turmoil
- Interrupting and other self-focused behavior
All children may exhibit these behaviors from time to time, but children with ADHD struggle with these behaviors more often and with more difficulty.
Diagnosis and treatment
In general, a child must be experiencing symptoms for at least six months in order to be diagnosed with ADHD. Furthermore, symptoms must be present in multiple settings, such as at home and school, and the symptoms must be more severe and frequent than a child who doesn’t have ADHD.
And, a child may need some testing to rule out other causes, as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and certain types of learning disabilities can cause similar symptoms in some children.
At Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics, we treat ADHD with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. Dr. Marak will work with you and your child to find the right medication, dosage, and therapy type.
To learn more about ADHD and to get testing or treatment for your child, book an appointment over the phone with Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics today.