10 signs your child might have ADHD
In the second part of the ADHD series, Dr Sabina Dosani, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Clinical Partner London, discusses some common signs your child may have ADHD.
ADHD affects thousands of children in the UK and can cause significant distress and disruption. The symptoms of ADHD can often be confused with other conditions and may get written off as a child just being naughty or boisterous. There are some key questions that parents should ask themselves when wondering if their child has ADHD:
Could my child have ADHD?
- Can your child complete tasks?
- Do they daydream a lot?
- Is your family always looking for things your child has misplaced or lost?
- What is your child’s concentration like for difficult or boring things?
- Are they easily distracted?
- Do they make you run late?
- Are they always on the go?
- Do they act or blurt things out before thinking?
- How do they cope with last-minute changes in plans?
- Are they able to sit still in class or at the dinner table?
If you have answered yes to many of these questions, it does not necessarily mean that your child has ADHD. These symptoms can also be explained by the following conditions.
What else could it be?
- Learning disabilities
- Pervasive developmental disorder
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Anxiety disorders
To rule in or out ADHD, it is important that your child is screened for the above conditions. It is very common for children with ADHD to have more than one condition, for instance, to have ADHD and depression or ASD.
ADHD treatment options
For school-aged children, either combination treatments with both behavioural interventions and medication management, or medication management alone, are significantly superior to intensive behavioural treatment alone.
Medication is not recommended for preschoolers.
Stimulant medications for ADHD
Pharmaceutical treatments should be initiated under the recommendation of a specialist child and adolescent psychiatrist or paediatrician who has been trained in this field.
Stimulant medication can improve attention span, decrease distractibility, increase the ability to finish tasks, decrease hyperactivity and reduce impulsivity. The different formulations of stimulant drugs differ mostly in respect to their duration of action. Short-acting stimulants last between three and five hours. Longer-acting ones last up to 18 hours. Your child will need to be carefully monitored if medication is started – there can be side effects such as difficulties in sleeping, loss of appetite and decreased growth.
Specialist parenting intervention / behavioural interventions
Behavioural interventions involve teaching parents social learning principles, reinforcement and stimulus-controlled behaviour. Cognitive-behavioural interventions for ADHD involve teaching self-instructions, problem-solving, self-reinforcement and self-redirection. Cognitive training studies have also attempted targeting working memory and attention deficits. Once a child has mastered these skills that will be taught, they will be able to apply them for the rest of their life, which can be incredibly helpful.
What is the long-term outlook?
ADHD was traditionally viewed as a disorder of childhood that individuals grow out of. However, we now know that many children with ADHD continue to exhibit significant difficulties as adults. By adulthood, the classic hyperactivity of childhood may have eased; however, the effects of ADHD on social and academic functioning and self-esteem can become cumulative. For example, adults with ADHD have more marital difficulties, employment difficulties, and driving violations. Untreated ADHD is associated with higher rates of alcohol and drug use in adulthood. Early intervention is key.
If you would like to talk to someone about ADHD and whether an assessment is right for your child, please call 0203 761 7026.