Almost all children have times when their attention or behaviour gets out of control, but for some, this may be a sign of a larger issue.
When a child/young person finds it very hard to concentrate or focus for any length of time, and is impulsive and excessively active in most situations, we may be talking about ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD is a behavioural condition that makes focusing on every day requests and routines, challenging.
The cause of ADHD is unknown and the behaviour problems that children with ADHD have, can be frequent and severe and often interfere in their daily lives. They can show defiance, aggressiveness and difficulties, in their relationships with others.
Diagnosis and treatment typically begins when parents, teachers or school Counsellors notice that children are not functioning as well as they could be. It is difficult to diagnose ADHD in children younger than 4 years old or when a child becomes a teenager, as in both stages the brain is rapidly changing.
Children with ADHD show signs of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity in specific ways, such as:
- has a hard time paying attention
- does not seem to listen
- easily distracted
- makes careless mistakes
- doesn't follow through instructions
- frequently loses a lot of important things or forgets things.
- is constantly moving, cannot stay seated
- frequently squirms and fidgets
- talks too much
- cannot play quietly, often runs, jumps and climbs when it is not permitted.
- acts and speaks without thinking
- has trouble waiting for their turn, cannot wait for things in general
- frequently interrupts others.
It would be recommended to consult with your GP if:
- symptoms occur in two or more settings, such as home, school, and social situations
- symptoms significantly impair your child's ability to function in some of the activities of daily life, such as schoolwork, relationships with you and siblings, relationships with friends, or the ability to function in groups such as sports teams.
Treatment for ADHD usually involves medication and therapy, as children may need to learn to manage their impulsivity, develop social skills and help to them manage their feelings, frustrations and improve their self-esteem.
Once the ADHD is under control you can find that your child:
- often has a lot of energy but can channel it appropriately
- their impulsivity turns into spontaneity, and they are willing to try new things
- they may be really creative and inventive
- they can focus well when they like the task.