ADD/ADHD

2. ADD/ADHD 

2.1 What is ADHD

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) is one of the most common behavioral disorders that start during childhood. However, it does not only affect children – people of all ages can suffer from ADHD. Psychiatrists say ADHD is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder.

An individual with ADHD finds it much more difficult to focus on something without being distracted. He has greater difficulty in controlling what he is doing or saying and is less able to control how much physical activity is appropriate for a particular situation compared to somebody without ADHD. In other words, a person with ADHD is much more impulsive and restless.

Health care professionals may use any of the following terms when describing a child (or an older person) who is overactive and has difficulty concentrating – attention deficit, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, hyperkinetic disorder.

Studies have indicated that ADHD is highly heritable. The scientific community generally agrees that ADHD is biological in nature. Many reputable scientists believe ADHD is the result of chemical imbalances in the brain.

ADHD in children is completely different from normal childhood excited and boisterous behavior. Many children, especially very young ones, are inattentive and restless without necessarily being affected by ADHD

2.2 Three Types of ADHD

a. Predominantly Inattentive Type

The person finds it very difficult to organize or finish a task. He/she finds it hard to pay attention to details and finds it difficult to follow instructions or conversations.

b. Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive Type

The person finds it hard to keep still – he/she fidgets and talks a lot. A smaller child may be continually jumping, running, or climbing. He/she is restless and impulsive – interrupting others, grabbing things and speaking at inappropriate times. He/she has difficulty waiting his/her turn and finds it hard to listen to directions. A person with this type of ADHD will have more injuries and/or accidents than others.

c. Combined Type

A person can have symptoms that include those of a and b, and both can be equally predominant. In other words, all the symptoms in a and b stand out equally. 

2.3 Facts and Statistics of ADHD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health 2 to 3% of children have ADHD. This means that is a typical classroom at least one child has ADHD. The NIMH estimates that about 2 million children in the US have ADHD.

Russell Barkley, PhD has done extensive research on ADHD and ADD. Below is a summary of some of his findings:

    1. Boys are most likely to be diagnoses ADHD
    2. 75% of boys with ADD are also hyperactive while 60% of girls with ADD are also hyperactive
    3. 40% of children with ADHD have parent with ADHD
    4. 50% of children with ADHD also have trouble sleeping
    5. Children with ADHD develop 30% slower than non ADHD children
    6. 65% of children with ADHD have discipline problems
    7. 25% of children with ADHD have a serious learning disability
    8. One half of ADHD children have poor listening comprehension

2.4 Why is Early Intervention is so Important

Early Intervention means less time “behind” the rest of the kids in the class, less struggle, more self confidence. Early Intervention will mean an easier time for your child later.

When a young child is showing signs of difficulty, efforts should be made to determine the best ways to address that difficulty. There are many situations where a parent felt  certain that their children was not developing in ways that they felt comfortable with, but were told that the child was too young to be diagnosed and would probably just grow out of the trouble.

While diagnosis of a child before age 3 is not appropriate, treatment assistance is vital to a child that is showing problems in his/her development. The important thing is to provide a young child with the assistance he or she may need to help get his/her development back on a healthy trajectory. When the difficulties are really interfering with their developing skills and abilities, then waiting until they “outgrow” them, or not providing any assistance because they are too young to be diagnoses with ADHD, does not seem like a particularly helpful position to take.

2.5 What can I do to help my child

First of all, arrange for a proper assessment for the child with a qualified psychologist. A thorough assessment is not for us to “label” a child with ADHD, but for us to understand the areas of weaknesses caused by the symptoms of ADHD so that we can better help the child cope with the challenges ahead and help him achieve his fullest potential

Using a variety of early intervention strategies, parents reported, on average, a 17% decrease in aggression and a 21% improvement in their children’s social skills. Teachers saw similarly strong results; in the classroom, there was a 28% improvement in both categories. Early literacy skills improved up to three times over their baseline status.

Early intervention techniques include highly individualized programs that often rely on positive supports to reinforce behavior. These highly interactive techniques can also be supplement to medicine, for example, modifying environments in home and school (such as altering tasks and activities in the classroom to accommodate ADHD students) can be an effective effort to improve behavior.