Behind the scenes with ADD/ADHD
In days passed, many people assumed that children with ADD/ADHD were simply naughty or lazy to concentrate. It is true that many students only excel in the subjects which they are interested in or perhaps even aspects of the subject which interest them. Children with ADD/ADHD do try to reach academic expectations, but and if they don’t achieve these expectations, depression, anxiety and even low self-esteem often follow. This could be attributed to being properly diagnosed or a lack of understanding and support. The amount of diagnosed cases of children with ADD/ADHD has increased over the last decade and is usually treated with medication to increase concentration or the parent can choose the Alternative Therapy route which can also prove to assist the student in concentration, too.
What is ADD/ADHD?
ADHD was first discovered in the year 1902 by British paediatrician Sir George Frederic Still who described it as “an abnormal defect of moral control in children”. He went on to note that children with ADD/ADHD had difficulty controlling their behaviour the way a typical child could, but that they were just as intelligent. Often, extremely intelligent students find it difficult to focus or concentrate because of this and start to believe they aren’t as intelligent as other students because they may perhaps do poorly on exams or assignments when the exact opposite is true. It is extremely important that a diagnosis is made before the child reaches the point where they become hopeless. ADD/ADHD can be noticed most prevalently between the ages of 3 and 6 and is a chronic condition that can be diagnosed before the age of 7. It includes attention difficulty, hyper-activity and impulsiveness. This condition, as mentioned above, often begins in childhood and can last through to adulthood. ADD/ADHD contributes to low self-esteem, troubled relationships and difficulty at school and/or work.
How do i know my child has this condition?
Like any condition, there are certain signs that you have ADD/ADHD. These signs are split up into 3 main categories: Inattentiveness; Hyper-Activity and Impulsiveness and Combination Type.
Inattentiveness is most commonly associated with girls and can lead to difficulty concentrating and focusing. This may make it difficult to complete tasks that require a lot of attention or focus as they often make careless mistakes and have difficulty organizing tasks. They have a short attention span and are easily distracted. They sometimes appear forgetful and may have a tendency to lose things. They also tend to have difficulty completing tedious or time-consuming tasks and may find it difficult to listen or carry out instructions.
Hyperactivity andImpulsiveness is the category that is more prominent in boys than girls. This category includes constant fidgeting, the inability to sit still (especially in silence), lack of concentration on tasks, excessive physical movement or talking, inability to wait their turn, acting impulsively, interrupting conversations and little or no sense of danger. All of these make it very difficult for the child to function in a school environment. Home-schooling may be a very viable option for a child within this category.
Combination Type is common in both genders with girls tending towards the more inattentive side and boys the more hyper-active and impulsive side. This category is the more common category with most children matching up with both symptoms of hyper-activity and inattentiveness. A child may sometimes only have a few of these traits and not all of them.
There is no simple test that you can do to determine if you or child has ADD/ADHD. You can only watch and observe for traits they may have that fall into these categories. Since disorders such as depression, anxiety and specific sleep issues can often get mixed with ADD/ADHD it is always important for your healthcare professional to rule these out before a diagnosis can be made.
For someone to be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD effectively, they will need to display 6 of the inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviour traits. These traits must also manifest before the age of 12 and needs to be noticeable in more than one setting (e.g., home and school). They need to be a hindrance in your everyday life.
An initial diagnosis may reveal one type of ADD/ADHD, but this may change over time making it necessary for people to go for re-evaluations once they get older. As children get older and come to reach their mid-20s, these traits no longer manifest themselves. The condition will always be there, but the traits won’t necessarily manifest themselves. If you think your child has ADD/ADHD, consult with your child’s school counsellor, teacher or physician in order to treat it.
How do I treat it?
ADD/ADHD may be treated, but it can never be cured. Should you have this condition, you may find it will last for years or even your whole life. In order to formulate a strategy to treat the condition, you will need a medical diagnosis. There are various ways to treat ADD/ADHD.
There are medications that can treat the ADD/ADHD. These can include psychostimulants such as Ritalin or Concerta, antidepressants such as Wellburtin and Effexor and non-stimulants such as Strattera and Intuniv.
There is also behavioural management therapy, parent training in behaviour management, behavioural intervention in school and behavioural peer interventions.
A lot of people prefer the more holistic approach when treating ADD/ADHD. Exercises such as yoga are known to improve mood and focus in both children and adults. Diet is another factor in managing ADD/ADHD. According to research avoiding fried foods, added sugars, salt and artificial ingredients can drastically reduce the effects of the ADD/ADHD. Adequate nutrition, regular meals and high intake of vegetables are all known to improve moods in children with ADD/ADHD.
However, at the end of the day, choosing the right treatment depends on the child and their family. Parents need to work in conjunction with healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, coaches and other family members. If you as a parent create a routine, manage distractions, limit choices, be clear and specific when you talk with your child, use goals and praise as well as effective discipline you will find it much easier to manage this condition.
If you look at the world today, you will find that every one of us have a touch of ADD/ADHD. Some blame could be attributed to diet and when we think of all the preservatives and chemicals that are included in the manufacture of food, we can understand this position. Our children need specific assistance with not only their education, but also with everyday life. Assessing and responding early is the key to success.
Guest writer: Kristal Williams
National Health Service (NHS) – United Kingdom
NHS Symptoms – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Verywell Mind – ADD and ADHD: Differences, Diagnosis, & Treatments
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Healthline – www.heathline.com/health/adhd/three-types-adhd#causes – article no longer available online