ADHD: the importance of picking it up early

By Khatija Nxedlana
27 January 2017

Here's what to look out for.

Congratulations! Your little darling has started Grade 1 – the beginning of 12 years of formal schooling.

This is also the year when learning problems can be picked up in your child – and the earlier the better, says child psychologist Brendan Belsham.

Read more: Help, my child has ADHD!

Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can become obvious now as Grade 1 learners are required to sit at a desk for longer periods of time, use their fine motor skills to master pens, pencils, scissors etc and remain focused on one task.

Picking up early on signs of ADHD can mitigate the damage to a child’s academic foundation and self-esteem, Belsham says.

“The three clusters of ADHD – inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity – become more apparent when greater demands are placed on the child’s capacity to self-regulate,” he explains.

Symptoms include:

• Fidgeting or talking non-stop

• Difficulties in engaging quietly in activities or play

• Interrupting others and not being able to wait their turn

• Inattentiveness and difficulty in concentrating

Belsham says it’s easier for teachers to detect symptoms of ADHD as they’re exposed to behaviour that exacerbates the symptoms as the learner is under pressure to focus for extended periods of time in class.

If a teacher suspects ADHD, they should be sensitive when giving feedback to parents – and parents should never interpret it as a sign of inadequate parenting.

Read more: What type of learner is your child? Here’s how to help them study more effectively

“ADHD is highly treatable,” Belsham says. “With the right treatment, children can thrive throughout their school careers.”

If you suspect your child has ADHD speak to your doctor about the right solution for your child.

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