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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is a behavioural condition where there is a short or poor attention span or impulsiveness inappropriate for their ages. It occurs in kids before the ages 4 and 7 and does not interfere in the social functioning and learning abilities of children until after middle school years. ADHD was previously called 'attention deficit disorder' but the H was added because hyperactivity is an important occurrence.

What you need to know

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is the most common disorder in the UK according to the NHS. It is estimated that 2-5% of children and young adults are affected with the behavioural disorder. Furthermore, it is estimated that more than 2 out of 3 children will still have the disorder through their teenage years.

  • Symptoms

The symptoms of ADHD can be divided into 3 major categories:

* Signs of inattention - The child has difficulty in sustaining work and play, misses out on details, difficulties in listening, obeying and following instructions, is forgetful and often loses things.

* Signs of hyperactivity - A child with the behavioural disorder fidgets and squirms, leaves the classroom and goes somewhere else, talks, runs, and climbs excessively.

* Signs of impulsivity - He/she takes out a turn, blurts out things, interrupts others, and cannot wait for a turn.

All these signs do not need to be present when diagnosing a child or young adult with ADHD.

  • Diagnosis

There is no lab test to diagnose ADHD in children so often, the diagnosis is based on the frequency, number and severity of symptoms and must occur in 2 separate environments. Hence, if symptoms occur in the school or the home alone, this cannot qualify as ADHD. Often, children are given psychological tests to determine if they have the behavioural disorder.

Treatment and management

Structures, routines, school plan and modified parenting techniques are employed to help cope with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. Drug treatment alone may be effective for children who come from a stable and supportive environment while behaviour therapy and drug treatment may be combined. Psychostimulant drugs are quite effective to alleviate the symptoms and in the day to day management of the disorder. In the UK, methylphenidate, dexamfetamine, and atomoxetine are licensed for use on teenagers and children.

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