What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD?)

ADHD is a behavioural and developmental disorder; it is not an illness. It is a condition of the brain that makes it hard for children to control their behaviour. This is one of the most common childhood disorders seen by psychologists.

With medical treatment, understanding and care, a child with ADHD can live a normal life.

Although symptoms may occur in the early years, a diagnosis of ADHD is usually only when when a child is older than six years of age. This is because all young children have a limited attention span, and sometimes, they do things without thinking. This must not be taken into assumption that the child has ADHD.

Children with ADHD are impulsive, inattentive, and wasily distracted. ALthough they are not noted to be “over-active” from birth as such, they are likely to have been colicky, demanding babies.


The current theory about ADHD is that it is a disorder of perception and understanding. For times as many boys as girls have ADHD, and it is caused by both generic and enviornmental factors. In the past, problems such as ADHD and hyperactivity were thought to have a dietary origin. Diets high is chemical addictives and lacking in essential vitaminds and minerals were thought to cause aberrant behaviour in some children, though this has not proven not to be the case.


A child with ADHD may be unpredictable and disruptive. Even before he goes to school, he m ay have problematic relationships with adults and have acquired a reputation for rebelliousness. This has a negative effect on his self-esteem, so that when he does go to school. he starts off on an unequal basis with other children.

His performance may be variable; one day he might be quite complaint; th next day he won’t be able to sit still for more than a few minutes and will fidget incessantly. He may become a low achiever at school, with a reputation for poor cencentration, and he may be though to have a low IQ, though he may not Certain early physcial symptoms are associated with ADHD.

In babies, these include colic and dificulty feeding either by breast, or bottle. In children, they include poor apprtite and sleeping problems. Boys with ADHD seem to suffer more than girls in that girls are likely to be more achievement-orientated, and better adjusted socially. Boys in particular may be criticized for over-activity and this can make things worse.


If you child is having problems at school – if he is irresponsible, impulsive, careless, disorganized, and suffers from poor concentration and motivation, you need to eliminate the possible causes.

Consider the possibility of dyslexic, or gifted. If his behaviour has started recently, has he expereinced a traumatic event? Does he have any other behavioural problems such as lying or is he resistant to school?

Your child may need to be referred to an educational psychologist who will be able to diagnose ADHD and decide on appropriate action that meets your child’s individual needs. Information is collected from the parents, care-givers, teachers and anyone who spends extensive time with the child. This information is usually gathered by a standard set of questionaires, afterwhich an experienced paediatrician, a child psychologist, or a child psychiatrist.

Symptoms should be present in more than one setting the child is in, present for more than six months and it must be evident that it is making basic functioning difficult for the child.


There is no known cure for ADHD till now, but there are good treatment options to help these children. These would include long term goals and progress monitoring, stimulant medications, behaviour therapy, parent education and teamwork.

How can we help?

It’s important for a child with ADHD to have an orderly home life, and a structured routine. If your child knows that he has to do certain things at set times of the day, he’s less likely to be unruly. Remember, too, that if your child has problems with self-control he probably has low self-esteem because he meets with adult disapproval all the time. Always praise and reward good behaviour and he’ll learn that certain types of behaviour win your approval, while others don’t. When you want your child to do something, make requests clear and simple and give them one at a time. Praise effort as well as acheivement.

Drug treatment is reserved for severe ADHD in children over the age of six and the main drug used is Ritalin. It has significant side effects, so use is closely monitored.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be very demoralizing, since your child may have a reputation for being a troublemaker. Many parents feel isolated because their child is rejected by preschools, and even banned from friends’ homes. Don’t blame yourself for your child’s behaviour and take time away from your child if you can when it all gets too much.

Ensure you maintian eye contact when conversing with the child. Clear, brief instructions repeated if necessary. Encourage the child to do things where he/she will experience success, and praise the child when he/she does.

Visit SPARK, a parent support group, for the promotion of ADHD research and knowledge.



  1. 1
    Markey Says:

    Add an elimination diet to your list of treatments for ADHD. We’ve been using the Feingold Program for many years and I don’t know what we would have done without it.

  2. […] excitability. Heightened capacity for being active and energetic.  They are often misdiagnosed as ADHD . Understand teachers may allow children to squeeze a soft tactile ball or other object to […]

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