ADHD stands for "Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" which is a common psychological disorder with its onset in childhood. The disorder leads to difficulty and impairment in 'effective task-oriented behavior'; particularly evident as Impulsivity, Exaggerated Activity (Hyperactivity), and Inattentiveness.
Here are a few specific pointers to help you understand more about ADHD:
- Inattentiveness in ADHD: Inattentiveness is a key feature of children with ADHD, and they may be highly distractible. This is often evident in classroom/structured settings where a child is unable to focus, finds it very difficult to concentrate on a given task, his/her mind seems to be 'wandering', and often commits errors and misses out details. Further, it may seem like 'deliberate disobedience' to others, whereas it actually is a deficit in skills owing to the disorder.
- Exaggerated/Excessive Activity & Impulsivity: Often noted as 'hyperactivity, children with ADHD are often 'on-the-go', and are excessively fidgety and/or talkative. Classroom complaints are often around the child's inability to remain seated, being 'restless', and difficulty in maintaining classroom decorum. Parents often feel that the children exhibit some 'extra energy' and notoriety that affects the child's day-to-day functioning. Impulsivity implies the tendency to act without mindful thought. While young children may often be a little impulsive; children with ADHD often make hasty actions that may be seen as 'socially intrusive' or may have the potential for harm. In a school setting, this may be seen as an inability to wait for turns, breaking queues, blurting out answers, breaching rules.
- Onset in Early Childhood: Since it is a neurodevelopmental disorder, the onset of the disorder is in the developmental period. ADHD is usually evident in the first five years of life, but may not be diagnosed on a clinical level, as symptoms of ADHD are difficult to distinguish from normative childhood behavior which may be highly variable. (For instance, some young children are temperamentally more excitable than others. It is only when their temperament poses difficulty in fulfilling age-expected school and social demands that they become noticeable and a cause of distress).
- Requires Psychiatric and Psychological Management: ADHD has different severity levels ranging from mild to severe. Thus, depending on the level of impairment, psychiatric and psychological management is required. While psychiatrists help in the pharmacological management of the symptoms of disorder using medicines like Ritalin, Concerta to decrease overactivity and increase alertness; child psychologists provide therapeutic interventions aiming towards the development of skills: attentiveness, concentration, interpersonal relations, etc.
- Early Intervention is the Key: Like all other neurodevelopmental disorders that impact children and adolescents, ADHD is manageable to a successful degree, when intervention is facilitated at an early stage. Thus, the earlier a child is diagnosed and intervened with the help of the right practicians, it is more likely that he/she will develop competent adaptive skills and reduce the level of difficulty and impairment.
Awareness is the first step towards any kind of solution. With this article on awareness on the common childhood disorder: ADHD, it is hoped that the difficulty would be better understood as 'lack of skill' that can be managed with the right interventions so that we can facilitate our children with the required adaptive skills to excel in life.
If you feel that your child may be facing a similar difficulty, it may be a good time to plan a visit with a clinical/child psychologist or a psychiatrist. With the right and early interventions, we are setting the path for productive and positive mental health for children, adolescents, and families.