Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders, affecting around 11.32% of school-going children in India, according to this study. As per the study, the prevalence of ADHD was higher among boys (66.7%) as opposed to that of girls (33.3%). The prevalence of this disorder was 16.33% among the lower socio-economic groups and 6.84% among the middle socio-economic group. ADHD was the highest between the age group of 9 and 10 years, according to the study.
When compared with the student population in India, the number of children suffering from ADHD in India is quite huge, running into lakhs. When undetected and untreated, it can continue into adulthood causing loss of career, reputation, relationship, self-esteem, and more.
But what constitutes ADHD? Difficulty in keeping attention, hyperactivity, fidgeting, excessive talking, trouble in taking turns, difficulty in following directions, and impulsive behaviour.
Although ADHD symptoms reduce with age, there’s no guarantee that it will melt away completely as you age. There’s no treatment available to cure ADHD, it can only help with controlling the symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can help with better educational, social, and behavioural outcomes.
While it’s not clear about what causes ADHD, researchers and scientists believe factors like genetics, environment or problems with the central nervous system during development might be the main reasons.
It’s also important to note that it’s difficult to diagnose ADHD in kids under 4 as they change very fast and after they become teenagers.
Only a paediatrician or a child psychiatrist or both will be able to determine whether or not your child has ADHD. There is no single test for ADHD and the assessment process is quite lengthy, sometimes going up to 2 days involving counselling, consultation, and sometimes non-invasive brain mapping. ADHD in children needs a strong support system, which should involve parents and teachers.
Positive Sides of ADHD Children
Not all children with ADHD have a problem with intelligence. It has been observed that children with ADHD can be extremely talented. Here are their positive sides:
- Creative: Children who have ADHD are not laggards in anything they can be amazingly creative and imaginative. While it’s true that children with ADHD daydream and can have multiple thoughts going on in their minds simultaneously, it is also true that they can become problem solvers and can notice what others don’t or haven’t.
- Flexibility: As mentioned above, children with ADHD have lots of thoughts going on in their minds, they do not stick to one alternative, but will consider a lot of other options.
- Enthusiastic: Children with ADHD aren’t fixated with one thing, they love exploring newer and different things. This means they can be pretty excited about anything around them.
- Energetic: These kids are very energetic and they cannot be swayed away from any task they are doing at the moment. It’s very difficult to distract them.
How to Find Whether Your Child has ADHD?
Children are always on the run. What they like today may not be their favourite activity tomorrow. They forget so many things- homework, pencils, keys, clothes, and more. They fidget constantly. They may write only half of their assignments. They may talk loudly or talk nonsense. Does all this mean they have ADHD or ADD? May or may not be. This is how kids grow up. These are typical childhood traits and they will outgrow these later in life.
In order to diagnose whether or not your child is suffering from ADHD, you need to meet a paediatrician or child psychiatrist or both. However, you can do your bit by checking for the warning signs.
Symptoms may differ with each child however there are certain common traits that you can check for yourself. There are 14 symptoms that you need to look out for.
1. Self-Centric Behaviour
Children often cannot recognise the needs and desires of other people. They interrupt others when they are not supposed to and will have issues waiting for their turn at school, home, and events. They are attention seekers and will need attention at all times.
2. Trouble Reading
Children might have trouble reading or might not read beyond a certain point as they do not get interested.
3. Trouble Talking
Kids with ADHD may have trouble talking. Either they talk too much or too less or too irrelevant. They might speak without thinking and later realise that they should not have uttered the words.
A child with ADHD may have trouble keeping their emotions under control. They might get angry at the slightest instance or inappropriate times or cry when they are not required. Younger children may throw tantrums.
- Can’t Sit/Stand/Stay Still
Children with ADHD can’t sit, stand, or stay still. They get restless staying still and may get annoyed when forced to stay still.
6. Can’t play quietly
As the kids are quite fidgety, they cannot play quietly and cannot engage with others or in any leisure activities.
7. Incomplete Tasks
A child with ADHD will always have his mind at different places at the same time and hence they will have problems finishing a task on time. For example, they may start work on something but move on to the other things catches their interest before finishing.
8. Lack of Focus/Attention
Children with ADHD/ADD will always have trouble paying attention to anything or anyone. For example, when someone is speaking to them directly, they’ll say they heard you, but they won’t be able to recall what you just said.
9.Avoiding Tasks That Require Thinking Process
They only think as much is required and will avoid doing tasks where they need to think extra. They do this because they lack focus. They will mostly depend on others to think for them. This can be anywhere- home, school, just about anywhere.
10. Repeated Mistakes
Children with ADHD will always have trouble following instructions and will have trouble executing any plan. This often leads to careless mistakes.
Children with ADHD are always in their world ignorant about what’s happening around them. If they are in a classroom, they will not pay attention to what’s being taught. If they are home, they will not listen to anything being said as too many thoughts are going on in their minds at the same time.
12. Lack Organisational Skills
A child with ADHD will always lack organisational skills. They will never be able to keep track of tasks and activities either at home or at school.
Kids with ADHD will always be absent-minded and may be forgetting to do daily activities. For example, they may forget to carry subject textbooks to school or forget where they kept the keys of their cycle or may not know where they kept their toys.
Children with ADHD may be introvert and may not socialise much when they are around others in a family gathering or parties or weddings. They always think the work is watching them and talking about them.
ADHD occurs more often in boys than girls and behavioural traits might be different in boys and girls. For example, boys with ADHD will be more hyperactive and girls may be quietly inattentive.
With rising awareness about ADHD and adult ADHD, diagnosis too has become commonplace now. More people are coming forward to get their children or themselves for ADHD. There are videos on how to self-detect ADHD symptoms and how to get out it, ADHD in children need not be taken as a menace, as there are coping mechanisms to overcome it.
ADHD Treatment for Children
For a very long time, psychiatrists have prescribed stimulant medicines as they are more effective than other medicines. These medicines are known to increase focus and decrease impulsive behaviour. While some medicines need to be taken for the lifetime, depending on the severity of the case, some can be withdrawn after a while. All of these medicines are not addictive and have been proven to be safe. Only a psychiatrist will be able to decrease or increase the dosage based on how the child responds to the treatment.
There are non-stimulant medicines that are prescribed as feasible alternatives for children that cannot tolerate stimulant medications. Although these medicines give the required effects, they might have some side effects which the psychiatrist will be able to say.
All children will exhibit all or some of these behaviours at some point in time while they are growing. These may not necessarily be signs of ADHD. But if te behaviours persist for a long time, then you need to speak to a psychiatrist. ADHD is something that will stay as the child ages and stays into adulthood. There are many ways one can get rid of ADHD such as a combination of education, behaviour therapy, home, and school support, exercise, and proper diet and nutrition.
There’s nothing to worry about ADHD. Several people have had ADHD in their childhood yet became successful in their adult lives. It all depends on how early the symptoms were diagnosed and how they worked around the ailment.