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Over the past few years, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been used as a scapegoat for pretty much any behavioral issue in children or sometimes for simply being just kids. While ADHD is a common mental disorder diagnosed in kids, it is important to make sure it is correctly diagnosed to help your child overcome its severe symptoms that can affect their ability to focus or even make friends.
As part of our How to Spot series, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about ADHD to help you get familiar with the symptoms, causes, and what to do about it. However, it is imperative that you understand that just because your child might show some signs, only a professional’s diagnosis will be able to determine whether or not it is an ADHD case.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a medical condition that stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A person suffering from ADHD might have problems with attention and concentration, inability to sit still and other common symptoms that will be discussed in detail below.
Symptoms of ADHD:
The symptoms of ADHD usually start between the age of 3-6 and can even continue throughout adulthood if not treated. While the following symptoms seem quite common and also appear in children going through an emotional trauma or anxiety, if several of these symptoms appear in your child, it is best to get a diagnosis:
- Easily distracted
- Difficulty in following directions
- Difficulty in finishing tasks
- Difficulty in paying attention which leads to careless mistakes
- Easily forgets daily activities
- Organization problems
- Difficulty sitting still
- Loses things frequently
- Daydreams frequently
- Have trouble waiting for their turn
- Learning difficulties at school
Symptoms of ADHD can be missed entirely in quiet and well-behaved children, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor academic performance, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships.
Causes of ADHD:
While research tends to show new sources every day, here are a few reasons why your child could be suffering from ADHD:
- Brain anatomy and function. There is a part of the brain that controls attention and activity level that could be affected when suffering from ADHD.
- Genetics. One of the main causes of ADHD could be genetic. In most cases, every 1 in 4 children with ADHD has parents who also suffer from the same disorder.
- Some head injuries could also result in ADHD.
- Babies who are born prematurely have a high risk of developing ADHD.
- Prenatal exposure to alcohol or nicotine can also increase the risk of developing ADHD.
Diagnosis of ADHD:
If your child suffers from the above symptoms and you feel they might have ADHD, then visiting a doctor is the first step you need to take to rule out any other medical reasons. Some doctors might first suggest keeping your child under observation for several weeks to be able to determine whether symptoms are a result of behavioral issues or other medical conditions.
If they feel that even with an ADHD-focused parent training or education program your child is not improving, then they will refer you to a professional to get a formal assessment. You can check this article to find out all the places in Cairo that offer assessments according to your location.
Treatment of ADHD:
After getting assessed, your doctor will decide which treatment is best for your child depending on the severity of the case and how much it is affecting their ability to perform daily tasks.
Therapeutic ADHD treatments:
Because ADHD can cause your child to face problems in dealing with other people, it can be beneficial to use psychotherapy to help them open up about their feelings and learn how to handle the situation by making better choices or controlling their impulses.
Understanding why they react a certain way and highlighting a pattern of behavioral issues is the first step to teach your child to monitor and change those behaviors. Through behavior therapy (BT), the child, teacher, and therapist work together to develop strategies for how your child could respond to certain situations. With direct feedback, your child will start to understand the best way to react and improve his/her relationships.
Social skills training
If a child is really struggling to deal with the social environment, doctors could resort to social skills training to improve behaviors such as waiting for their turn, asking for help, sharing toys, and dealing with things that get on their nerves.
While there are also stimulant and non-stimulant medications, it is best for your doctor to decide whether it is necessary and what to prescribe for your child’s case.