Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioural disorder that affects between 2% to 10% of children, with boys about three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

 

A child with ADHD act will without thinking, is hyperactive, and has trouble focusing. They may understand what's expected of them but have

 

trouble following through because they can't sit still, pay attention, or focus on details.

 

The features of ADHD may include one or more of the following:

 

  • Inattention – difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, apparent listening problems, easily distracted.

 

  • Impulsivity – interrupting, difficulty with turn-taking, having a ‘short fuse’.

 

  • Overactivity – constant restlessness and fidgeting, always ‘on-the-go’.

 

Of course, all kids (especially younger ones) act this way at times. But the difference with ADHD is that symptoms are present over a long time (at least six months) and occur in multiple different settings. They impair a child's ability to function socially, academically, and at home.

 

ADHD is a behavioural disorder, not an illness or a sign of low intelligence. The good news is that with understanding, care and proper medical treatment, a child who has ADHD can learn to successfully live with and manage their symptoms so they can lead a normal life.

 

Common Myths About ADHD and The Facts

 

Myth: All children with ADHD are hyperactive.

 

Fact: Some children with ADHD are inattentive, but not overly active. They may appear to be spacey and unmotivated.

 

Myth: Children with ADHD could behave better if they wanted to or tried harder.

 

Fact: A child with ADHD may do their best to be good, but may be unable to control impulses, sit still, or pay attention. They are not intentionally ‘misbehaving’. ADHD is not the child’s fault.

 

Myth: My child will ‘grow out of’ ADHD.

 

Fact: ADHD often continues into adulthood, so don’t wait for your child to outgrow the problem. Treatment can help your child learn to manage and minimize the symptoms.

 

Myth: Medication is the only treatment for ADD/ADHD.

 

Fact: Although medication is often prescribed, effective treatment for your child with ADHD also involves education, behaviour therapy, support at home and school, exercise, and proper nutrition.

 

Before an accurate diagnosis can be made, it is important that you see a mental health professional to explore and rule out the following possibilities:

 

  • Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills, or language.

 

  • Major life events or trauma (e.g. a recent move, death of a loved one, divorce).

 

  • Psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

 

  • Behavioural disorders such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

 

  • Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.

 

What Causes (And Does Not Cause) ADHD?

 

The truth is that we still don’t know exactly what causes the condition.

 

We do know some of the risk factors, which include learning and intellectual disabilities, birth problems (including prematurity), maternal drug use, difficult family situations, and some medical conditions.

 

Despite many theories that people have, there is no evidence that food intolerances cause children to develop ADHD symptoms.

 

Most importantly however, we know that ADHD is NOT caused by bad parents

 

or lack of parenting.

 

 

 

Is It Really ADHD?

 

Just because a child has symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity does not mean that he or she has ADHD. Diagnosing ADHD isn’t quick and easy, because ADHD can overlap with many other medical and behaviour conditions and can cause symptoms that mimic the disorder.

Before an accurate diagnosis can be made, it is important that you see a mental health professional to explore and rule out the following possibilities:

 

  • Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills, or language.

 

  • Major life events or trauma (e.g. a recent move, death of a loved one, divorce).

 

  • Psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

 

  • Behavioural disorders such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

 

  • Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.

 

What Causes (And Does Not Cause) ADHD?

 

The truth is that we still don’t know exactly what causes the condition.

 

We do know some of the risk factors, which include learning and intellectual disabilities, birth problems (including prematurity), maternal drug use, difficult family situations, and some medical conditions.

 

Despite many theories that people have, there is no evidence that food intolerances cause children to develop ADHD symptoms.

 

Most importantly however, we know that ADHD is NOT caused by bad parents

 

or lack of parenting.

 

Treatment for ADHD

 

Any treatment plan for a child with ADHD (and other behavioural disorders) will involve parent and family education, support and encouragement. A child with ADHD can stretch the patience of all members of the family. It is important for parents to be consistent and work as a team to help each other and reduce stress in the family.

 

An ADHD treatment plan may also include medication to control ADHD symptoms, and behavioural/ social therapy to help your child learn and develop concentration and social skills. Remember – a child with ADHD does not intend to be difficult. It is not their fault.

 

Where To Get Help

 

  • Your doctor or paediatrician

 

  • Child psychologist

 

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Association of Victoria 1800 233 842

 

  • The Specialist Children’s Services, Department of Human Services 1300 650 172

 

For more information on ADHD and behavioural disorders, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au or http://raisingchildren.net.au/

 

 


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.