ADHD Frequently Asked Questions
What Is ADHD?
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a behavioral disorder that is characterized by excessive hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsiveness. Common in school age children, ADHD affects about 8-10% of children and is found three times as often in boys than in girls. This disorder usually starts around age 7.
What are the two types of ADHD, and what is the difference between them?
ADHD is sub-classified into two types: Inattentive and Hyperactive/Impulsive. Inattentive shows six or more of the following signs:
- Disorganized, or loses important school papers easily
- Doesn't appear to listen or pay attention
- Does not plan ahead
- Easily distracted
- Doesn't attend to details
- Has difficulty following instructions
Hyperactive/Impulsive displays six or more of the following signs:
- Runs or climbs where inappropriate
- Doesn't stay in seat in classroom
- Interrupts others
- Blurts out answers
- Can't play quietly
- Talks excessively
- Always on the go or in motion
What Causes ADHD?
Though the cause is not fully understood, researchers believe that the link is primarily genetic, though environmental factors play a role. It is important for parents to understand that it is not due to poor parenting, sugar, or vaccines. Environmental factors like smoking during pregnancy and excessive amounts of television are being researched as potential causes.
How Is ADHD Diagnosed?
Diagnosis must be performed by a health care practitioner. ADHD is diagnosed in kids by age 7 who display the above symptoms for at least six months and at a more severe rate than other kids. The behaviors must affect at least two aspects of the child's life (i.e. school, daycare, friendships, etc.). ADHD can be difficult to diagnose because it is sometimes seen in conjunction with other disorders, such as oppositional defiance disorder and mood disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, and learning disabilities.
Is ADHD just a lack of respect for parents?
Parents should not take this disorder personally; kids are not defiant or disrespectful on purpose. Research has shown that kids with ADHD have less activity and smaller areas of the brain where behavior is regulated. Their behavior is not simply defiance or lack of discipline; it is a legitimate disorder that demands the parents full attention and patience.
What are some behavior strategies I can practice with my ADHD child?
- Create a routine in which the child's entire day is mapped out, and do your best to help him stick to it.
- Avoid distractions. Turn off the t.v. and radio during homework time.
- This or that. Give your child a choice between one thing or the other to limit the chance that he will be overwhelmed by all his choices.
- Establish goals and rewards. The goals can be simple like special house chores; the rewards should be designed to build self-esteem, so nothing over the top should reward a simple goal.
- Discipline effectively. Remember to use patience and consistency. Spanking and yelling won't cut it here.
- Develop skills. Encourage him to seek activities that help him cultivate his talents.
I don't want to give my kid a bunch of prescription drugs; is there an alternative form of treatment?
You will want to discuss treatment with your health care practitioner, but keep in mind that there are alternatives. In addition to adjusting your home life, you can work to find special teachers who will be helpful for your child, and consider joining a parent support group for helpful tips and encouragement.
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