“While most people have heard of ADHD, a surprising number don’t know much about the disorder. That is why so many ADHD kids suffer under labels like “lazy” or “undisciplined.” If you have a child with ADHD, you may have to deal with other people criticizing your child or your parenting methods. The truth is that parenting, individual effort and discipline have very little to do with the development of ADHD." Dr. Rajagopalan
Children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are excessively active, have trouble maintaining their attention, and have difficulty controlling their impulses. ADHD is considered a neurobehavioral disorder that normally emerges before the age of 7.
Three types of ADHD are recognized:
- ADHD-I (predominantly inattentive) Symptoms include being easily distracted, forgetful, daydreaming, poor concentration, and difficulty completing tasks. These children are not overly active however.
- ADHD-H (predominantly hyperactive) Symptoms include excessive fidgetiness, restlessness, hyperactivity, difficulty waiting and remaining seated, and immature behavior. For the most part these children are able to pay attention
- ADHD-C (ADHD combined) Children with this type of ADHD are both hyperactive and have difficulty paying attention. This is the most common form of ADHD.
The prevalence of ADHD in children ranges from four to 8% and is the most common behavioral disorder diagnosed in children; it is four times more common in boys than in girls.
The cause of ADHD is unknown but the majority of the research points to a genetic component. Research has clearly shown that ADHD is a brain-based disorder, and the symptoms are linked to a specific brain area known as the frontal lobe; the area of the brain responsible for attention, organization, inhibition, and control. Other possible factors involved with the development of ADHD include low birth weight and prenatal maternal smoking.
Although certain parenting styles may help to reduce or increase the impact of the symptoms of ADHD, parenting does not cause or prevent ADHD. Other theories regarding the cause of ADHD including, too much sugar, food allergies, urban living, poor school environment, and excessive television viewing have all been disproven.
Studies on both fraternal and identical twins as well as on biological and adoptive parents indicate a heritability rate of 80%.
Family conflict tends to be higher in families where there is ADHD. Children with ADHD talk more are more defiant and more demanding than those without the disorder. Parents, particularly mothers, have been found to be more negative and less rewarding with their children, while fathers seem to have less trouble. This may be because fathers either spend less time with the kids or their style of interaction is more conducive to highly active kids.
Children with ADHD have a more difficult time in school, by the time they’ve reached adolescence as many as 25% of children with ADHD get expelled while another 30% drop out. The majority of children with ADHD do not go on to college.
Half of all children with ADHD will carry their symptoms into adulthood where they will continue to experience problems in social situations and at work. Many children with ADHD do go onto college and as adults find a way to cope with their symptoms.
Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are effective treatments. The most common and effective treatment is the use of stimulant medications. Medications such as Ritalin and Adderall are effective for over 80% of children and adults with ADHD. These meds work by activating areas of the brain that help children control their impulses and maintain attention.
Treatment is most effective when it combines medication with parent training and school programs that reward children when they stay on task.
For more information on childhood ADHD visit, ADHD Parent Support.
Test your child for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by using this online calculator. It is best if the mother provides all the answers to the questions. However, if she is not available, the father can answer the questions. The calculator will predict the probability of the condition and the need to see a specialist to help the child.
Source material: APA-2000, Barkley 2003, Mash & Wolfe 2010, Wikipedia