ADHD is the most common neurobiological disorder in children. Just why the prevalence of ADHD has increased in the last 30 years is unclear. Certainly the world in which children live today is faster paced with countless distractions and stimulations that did not exist 30 years ago. I agree that ADHD is often misdiagnosed, but that does not mean that it isn’t real–it is, and children who have ADHD suffer tremendously.Without proper diagnosis and treatment, children with ADHD are at increased risk for school failure, depression, problems with relationships, substance abuse, delinquency, increased risk for accident, injuries and job failure in adulthood.
ADHD is characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity, and activity. Until recently it was believed that children eventually outgrew ADHD, as hyperactivity generally wanes during the teen years. However, it is now known that ADHD persists from childhood through adolescence and often into adulthood.
The current body of scientific literature now views the disorder as existing on a spectrum that includes specific subtypes, symptoms and varying degrees of severity.
Does my child have ADHD?
Three types of ADHD have been established according to which symptoms are strongest or most predominant in the individual.
Predominantly Inattentive Type: These children have tremendous difficulty organizing or finishing task, paying attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The child is easily distracted and forgets details of daily routines.
Specific Symptoms of Inattention Include:
- Poor attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Difficulty sustaining attention on tasks or play activities.
- Appearing not to listen when spoken to directly.
- Frequent failure to follow instructions and finish schoolwork or chores.
- Difficulty organizing activities.
- Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that demand sustained mental effort such as reading and general homework
- Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
- Is often easily distracted.
- Is often forgetful in daily activities.
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: The child fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long periods of time. Younger children may run, jump or climb constantly. The child appears restless and impulsive.
Specific Symptoms of Hyperactivity Include:
- Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
- Difficulty remaining seated in class or during other structured environments.
- Climbs and runs when and where it is not appropriate.
- Often have trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
- High energy; is”on the go” constantly.
- Talks excessively.
- Impulsive behavior
- Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
- Often has trouble waiting one’s turn.
- Often interrupts or butts into conversations or games.
- Some symptoms are present before age 7.
- Impairment is present in at least two different environments (e.g. at school and at home).
Combined Type: Symptoms of the above both types are evident.
If you are concerned about your child, talk with your pediatrician. He or she can evaluate your child and assist you in finding the best treatment in your area. Remember, ADHD is an illness. Your child does not want to be unfocused or inattentive any more than he or she would want strep throat. The good news is that ADHD is highly treatable, so the sooner you get help the better. Having a child with ADHD is hard on parents and on families so don’t go it alone. Talk with trusted friends, family members or your pastor. Pray for healing, patience and guidance and never forget that God loves your child even more than you do.
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