Have you ever found it difficult to concentrate on what you are doing or got easily distracted by your surroundings? Or impulsively interrupted people when they were talking? Or gone off into daydreams and dawdled with your work? What effect would it have on your life? Imagine if this were a permanent condition… But this is a common behavioral disorder and starts in childhood. It is known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.
Researchers say about 10% of school-going children are affected by ADHD. Boys are more likely to suffer from it than girls though no one has yet been able to figure out why.
The causes are linked to genes and to the environment—they are not caused by an excessive intake of sugar or by any other medication. Typically, another family member may have also suffered from it and this is also a sign. Premature birth and brain injuries at birth are also linked to ADHD.
ADHD sufferers act impulsively, cannot focus on the task at hand, get distracted quite easily, and are hyperactive. You will find them tearing around the house or school and not settling long enough in any one place to attend to work or what someone is saying. They will be able to comprehend what is being said to them but they can’t pay attention to details. Don’t get confused: this is a natural occurrence with most children, who normally act like this. But with ADHD this kind of behavior will be obvious over a longer period of time. It will weaken a child’s capacity to function in social circles and at school.
The symptoms that you need to look out for over time include difficulty in sitting still and sustaining concentration on any tasks; inability to follow instructions or pay attention to details; evading work that requires mental stamina; being disorganized in daily life; extreme physical energy for running about and conversing; difficulty in following social rules; and a tendency to dyslexia.
However, ADHD is treatable, and such children can learn to manage their symptoms, achieving a measure of success in their lives. You must realize that they can’t help themselves and need medication as well as behavioral therapy to improve and settle down. The pediatrician will evaluate all the factors involved before making the diagnosis. A child may be suffering from depression or have experienced an unsettling life change such as a move or illness, which could trigger off such behavior.
The doctor will observe the child for some time and decide if the symptoms have been consistent over a long period of time and persist in all kinds of environments. You can discuss your child’s medical history with the doctor regarding such matters as allergies and medication so he can make an informed decision. Be honest about all aspects of your child’s behavior. You are not being judged. The physician is there to help you and your child, so do be frank, upfront, and detailed in answering all questions.
The doctor will prescribe a course of medication as well as some form of behavioral therapy for your child, as this combination has been found to be more effective. They may also require more of your time than their siblings in terms of extra tutoring and behavior management. Your child and your family can successfully negotiate the pitfalls of this syndrome if you educate yourself on the topic and take the help of professionals.