Every child is unique. As a parent, the job is to nurture the best parts of the child’s character and help the child develop all aspects of their nature in a healthy way. If part of your child’s temperament is consistent difficulty in paying attention, nonstop talking, trouble staying still or controlling behavior, these may be symptoms of attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.
The National Institute of Mental Health says ADHD is a common mental disorder that starts in childhood and can continue into adulthood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 11 percent of American children ages 4 to 17 have the condition.
ADHD makes it hard for a child to focus and pay attention. Some children may have trouble being patient, or they may be hyperactive. The condition can cause behavior problems at school and at home.
ADHD has commonly been associated with boys, but a study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shows more girls are being diagnosed in recent years.
ADHD can be difficult to diagnose in girls because of the way they respond to the condition. For example, a boy may be vocal about frustrations, a girl may internalize frustrations.
With ADHD, children may seem quiet and well-behaved but may have a hard time paying attention or may often be distracted. A child may behave badly in school without parents and teachers knowing the child has ADHD.
What causes ADHD?
ADHD’s cause is unknown, but it can run in families. Children who have ADHD usually have at least one close relative who also has ADHD. ADHD likely results from interactions between genes and environmental factors. Smoking or drinking during pregnancy may increase the risk.
Diagnosing ADHD can be difficult. Some symptoms may seem like normal behavior, but ADHD can make bad behaviors worse and more frequent.
Children with ADHD may:
A child with ADHD may also have other psychiatric diagnoses like oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety disorder or a learning disability.
Have a conversation with your child’s teacher and visit with your health care provider. The teacher may be aware of behaviors that you may not see at home. A complete picture of your child’s behavior will help your provider with diagnosis and treatment.
There is no cure for ADHD, but there are treatments:
Your health care professional can guide you in understanding and helping your child. Keep your child’s teachers in the loop, too. Your child’s success in school will get a boost when the adults around them work together. Since ADHD can affect teens and adults, the sooner a diagnosis and treatment begins, the better. Effective treatment can make all the difference in the individual living well.