What moms need to know about ADHD


Here’s what she learnt:

What is ADHD?

The term refers to a rather specific behavioural disorder and shouldn’t be used to describe a child who’s merely energetic or easily distracted. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a common behavioural disorder which affects an estimated 10 per cent of the global population. Although there’s no defined reason, boys are up to three times more likely to be affected by ADHD than girls. Children who suffer from ADHD tend to act without thinking, have trouble concentrating and are hyperactive (among other symptoms).

What should moms look out for?

The signs above probably describe most kids, but there are a few important differences between a regular energetic or distracted child and one suffering from ADHD. The most important thing to remember is ADHD can only be properly diagnosed in children of schoolgoing age; in fact the average age for diagnosis of ADHD is six years old. However, far from being a childhood disease, ADHD can often continue into adult life.

ADHD (or ADD as it used to be referred to) is divided into three subgroups. In order to assess your child’s symptoms it’s important to understand the subgroups and the way symptoms between the groups differ.

  1. Inattentive type: This child struggles to pay attention and follow instructions and is unable to complete tasks. According to educational psychologist Dr WC Griffith children who only have inattentive symptoms of ADHD are often overlooked, since they’re not disruptive. However, the symptoms of inattention can have serious consequences such as struggling at school and having difficulty playing games with friends.
  2. Hyperactive-impulsive type: This child is restless and impulsive and fidgets constantly. Other symptoms include interrupting others and speaking at inappropriate times. Children suffering from hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are prone to injury due to their impulsive behaviour.
  3. Combined type: This type combines the symptoms of the other two types. This form of ADHD is by far the most prevalent.

If you suspect your child may suffer from ADHD, there are a few things you need to be certain of:

  • There must be a definite difference in your child’s behaviour compared to that of children of the same age which  you’d consider normal.
  • The symptoms which concern you must be apparent in more than one area of your child’s life (such as school, home, playtime).
  • The symptoms should appear consistently over a long period.

What to do if you think your child suffers from ADHD?

According to Dr Griffith, parents should consult an educational psychologist if they or their child’s teacher suspect the child has ADHD. A full psycho-educational assessment, including a questionnaire rating your child’s concentration skills completed by your child’s teacher, should be done.

However, educational psychologists aren’t able to prescribe medication. The prescription of medication can only be done by a GP, paediatrician or other medical specialist. Dr Griffith recommends your child be referred to a neurologist after diagnosis. “Neurologist will take an EEG (electroencephalogram – a scan which records electrical impulses from nerves to the brain) and prescribe medication only after studying the results of the EEG and the psycho-educational report.”

-Lindsay de Freitas

Sources: Dr WC Griffith, DEd (educational psychology), MEd (guidance and counselling), BEd (Hons), BA (education and psychology), HED (school guidance)

Extra sources: chp.edu, help4adhd.org, m.kidshealth.org, medicalnewstoday.com

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