The symptoms of ADHD in kids should be well understood to that not every child who is slightly disruptive is labelled with ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition where a person finds it difficult to control impulsive behaviour, pay attention, and act normally. This disorder is influenced by changes in brain development which affects the child's ability to speak, proper movement, and relationship-building. In other words, ADHD is not just a "naughty child".
The condition usually happens at childhood and continues into adulthood. It has no exact cure and no two conditions present the same, making it not easy to recognise. Symptoms may vary and there is a need for clear observation of the child's behaviour in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
ADHD is a neurological malfunction that may occur to anyone regardless of gender or ethnicity. To assess if the child has ADHD, it's extremely important for the parents, doctors, as well as teachers, to know its symptoms. Symptoms of ADHD are usually first noted in children from 6 to 12 years old (though it can be diagnosed earlier).
3 Types of Attention Deficit Disorder
1. Impulsive or Hyperactive ADHD
Symptoms of ADHD in this type can be observed in children who are overly active like jumping and running through the house and doing actions that are not normal for children at a certain age. A child with impulsive behaviour who likes to climb frequently on furniture, does not sit when told to do so, deliberately runs into people, and asks questions repetitively may have impulsive ADHD.
Symptoms of Impulsive ADHD:
- Not able to settle or be seated in one place (home, classroom, workplace, etc.)
- Runs and climbs excessively
- Taps hand or feet
- Uneasiness or restlessness
- Makes a lot of twisting movements
- Uncomfortable and bored when seated
- Creates annoying noise and can't keep quiet while doing activities or at play
- Talks too much
- Impatient when waiting a turn
- Cuts a conversation and blurts out the answer before a question is completed.
- Interrupts and intrudes on others (using other people's things without consent, cutting into activities or games)
- Always "on the go" as if driven by a motor
This hyperactive and risky behaviour brought by the child to teen up to adulthood can cause him problems in his social life. His peers may find it difficult to adjust to his behaviour, which can lead to social isolation.
2. Inattentive ADHD
Children with inattentive ADHD have one major problem – the inability to stay focused and pay attention. This condition is also unofficially referred to as ADD or attention deficit disorder.
The symptoms of ADHD in these children do not include disruptive behaviour but rather easily becoming distracted, having trouble in concentrating on a certain task or subject matter.
Though they may not have a severe behavioural problem, the inability to pay attention can make them very shy and affect their ability to follow instructions and perform tasks. The child may also tend to be forgetful and ignore things happening around him as if he is staring into space and daydreaming.
Symptoms of inattentive ADHD:
- Difficulties in following instructions and executing plans
- Ignoring instructions- strangers might wonder if they are deaf
- Excessive mistakes in homework due to poor attention
- Failure to maintain focus
- Difficulty in organisation
- Prefer not to join in- would rather be left alone.
- No interest in tasks that need coordination or mental effort.
3. Combined Type ADHD (Hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive)
Symptoms of ADHD in this type is the most common. Kids diagnosed with combined type attention deficit disorder exhibit both being impulsive and hyperactive. Based on the symptoms listed above, if the child shows at least six or more symptoms of each (hyperactive and inattentive), the child has an ADHD combined type.
Opposition Defiant Disorder
Opposition Defiant Disorder or ODD is associated with about 40 percent of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It's a condition in which a child or teen is expressing opposition or resistance towards you and others. This links to on your children's emotions and how they react to everything that is happening to them.
If you see that your child shows a pattern of reactions such as irritability, defiance, anger, and outburst, the child may need behavioural therapy to slowly get him away from his destructive personality.
The causes for ADHD have no exact and specific source but there are many studies conducted by doctors and scientists to identify relevant factors that influence the said disorder.
Risk Factors for ADHD
Gender: It is reported that boys are more than twice as likely to develop ADHD as compared to girls.
Brain injury: Brain is sensitive and if the child suffers from a traumatic brain injury, it can lead to ADHD.
Inherited genes: There are several genes that are inherited from families that can contribute to the development of ADHD.
Premature delivery or low-birth weight: Babies born premature and with below normal weight have higher risks of having the disorder when they grow up.
Environmental Factors: When a mother is exposed to harmful toxins such as lead during infancy and pregnancy, there is an increased chance of the child to acquire ADHD. Also consuming alcohol, drugs or cigarettes while pregnant may affect the baby's brain development leading to increased likelihood of the disorder.
Treatments for Combined Type ADHD
There are three primary ways to treat a child who is diagnosed with symptoms of ADHD: stimulants, non-stimulants, and psychotherapy.
Many parents want to avoid medications in their children at all costs. You can start by addressing diet and trying to improve sleep. Weighted blankets have been shown to successfully help hyperactive kids go to sleep faster and stay asleep.
With dietary changes, talk to a dietician who is experienced in working with these symptoms of ADHD in children but a good start is to reduce highly processed foods, reduce foods with tons of chemicals and artificial flavours and reduce sugar.
Check out this video to get a pediatrian's take on dealing with symptoms of ADHD in kids:
Let's study how these medications can help the child react with proper behaviour and improve physical functions.
Psycho-stimulants are prescribed by doctors to calm the symptoms of the disorder and help the child's ability to perform daily tasks. The drug contains chemicals that increase a child's brain activity, process attention and thinking.
With any medication, watch out for side-effects. Most children have no problems at all but be on the look -out for headaches, lack of appetite, stomach pain, sleeping problems, anxiety, and other personality changes.
Examples of stimulant drugs include Quillivant XR, Addreall, Vyvanse, Adzenys XR-ODT, Focalin, and Concerta.
These are drugs that work at a slower rate as opposed to stimulants to help the symptoms of ADHD. These work as an antidepressant for ADHD symptoms, helping children to ignore distractions and focus their attention.
Examples of non-stimulant drugs include Strattera, Kapvay and Intuniv.
The medication discussed above, when combined with therapy, can be an effective treatment for the child from ages 6 to 12 years old. By assessing the child's condition and applying the appropriate behavioural approaches, you can see improvement in the life and personality of a child or a teen with ADHD.
Behavioural therapy consists of class management, organisation training, parent training, and peer interventions. This therapy aims to correct the child from untoward behaviour and influence them towards the appropriate behaviour.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive refers to the mind. This therapy aims to help the child conquer his personality changes, irritability, and mood and anxiety disorder. Using the formulated strategies, a parent or therapist can succeed in modifying the child's behaviour.
Having a family member who acts differently from other family members can be difficult to manage. As a parent, try to teach your other kids how to cope up with their sibling/s that has symptoms of ADHD. This involves a sense of responsibility, family bonding, love, compassion, and communication.
Treatments For Children With Symptoms Of ADHD
Children with ADHD should not be discouraged or mistreated but given more care, attention, and support. Try to be consistent in teaching them how to handle their symptoms to achieve better results. Establish a routine and schedule that they will be familiar with, create a flow of instructions/organisational system, and reward them for good behaviour.
Other helpful tips include social skills training, building positive experiences to their area of interests, minimising distractions during activities or task assignments, and creating a healthy environment.