Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is often associated with impulsivity, lack of focus, and difficulty in self-management. Children who suffer from ADHD find it difficult to concentrate on their schoolwork or homework, get along with their peers in the classroom, and sit in one place for longer periods of time.
The symptoms of ADHD must be visible before the age of 12. It is important to note that a child must be experiencing the symptoms for at least 6 months to be clinically diagnosed with ADHD.
A study that was conducted on 770 primary school children between the ages of 6 and 11 revealed that around 11.32% of the students suffered from ADHD. Out of these, 66.7% were boys and 33.3% were girls. It was seen that children who showed signs of ADHD had poor academic performance and faced reading, writing and behavioural difficulties.
What are the symptoms of ADHD in children?
The symptoms of ADHD can be divided into three broad categories:
- Hyperactivity and impulsivity
Children who suffer from inattention often showcase these symptoms:
- Careless mistakes in schoolwork and lack of interest
- Difficulty focusing on tasks such as reading, playing, and studying
- Failing to listen, even when spoken to directly
- Spending time daydreaming or looking out of the window
- Difficulty following orders and instructions
- Keep repeating the same mistakes
- Find it hard to organise tasks or keep books, clothes, and toys in one place
- Easily misplaces things such as pencils, sketch pens, puzzles, and so on
Children who suffer from hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to showcase these symptoms:
- Fidgeting, tapping hands or feet, or being restless
- Difficulty sitting in one place even after being told to do so. Get up and start moving around even when they shouldn’t
- Talkative and overshare a lot
- Keep cutting people’s sentences in the middle
- Find it difficult to relax, such as while watching television or reading a book
- Act impulsively without thinking about the future consequences
Children may also show combined signs of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
These symptoms should exist in more than one setting - for example, home and school, school and tuition classes, and so on. A proper assessment is important to understand that these symptoms are not a result of hostility and defiance but rather of a serious underlying disorder.
Most parents discover these symptoms in their kids when they are in elementary school (from primary to class VIII). It may start with them receiving complaints from the school or neighbourhood about their kid’s anti-social behaviour. This means their child often ends up in a fight with the children of their age, does not pay attention in classes, keeps shifting seats in the school bus and classroom, shows extreme emotional responses for minor things, and so on.
What causes ADHD?
ADHD in children can be caused by several environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. Some of the reasons are:
- Low birth weight or premature birth (before the 9th month of pregnancy)
- Parental exposure to smoking
- Infections (for instance, encephalitis or inflammation of the tissues of the brain)
- Alcohol exposure when the child was still in the uterus
- Brain damage
- Nutritional deficiencies in the diet
The heritability of ADHD is approximately 74% according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Kids who show signs of ADHD are likely to have a parent or other blood relatives who also have ADHD.
Cultural influences play a role in detecting the signs of ADHD in a child. Misinformation and mislabeling of ADHD is a prevalent problem that is influenced by the mainstream media.
At Rocket Health, parents approach us with a genuine query, asking if their child is suffering from ADHD or if they are overthinking because of the influence social media has. There are chances that the symptoms can be a result of other mental health disorder and not ADHD. What we tell them, and what we’ll tell you as well, is to get in touch with a mental health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician) who will be able to diagnose it through an elaborative diagnostic assessment and test.
How does ADHD affect a child?
Children who show signs of ADHD often have poor academic performance because they struggle with focusing on a task over a long period of time. They are often scolded for being lazy and irresponsible when, in reality, they struggle to concentrate or follow instructions.
Children with ADHD also find it hard to socialise with their peers at school and in the neighbourhood. They often grow up with low self-esteem, negative self-image, and poor social skills. This is also because of the constant scolding that they get from adults (teachers and parents, for instance). Without support, it is hard for children to cope with ADHD.
How can parents help their child who has ADHD?
Dealing with ADHD is hard, especially for young children. Make sure to get help from the school teachers and collaborate on effective strategies so that the child can deal with it effectively. Request modifications in the teaching methods that are followed in school so that the learning environment becomes inclusive for children with ADHD.
You can start by structuring your child’s day and breaking down complex tasks into manageable activities. Help your child finish tasks such as homework and reward them (toys, chocolates, etc.) when they make progress. Avoid reprimanding them for repeating the same mistakes, and instead, follow a step-by-step approach to help them get better.
Opting for parental training
A parental or educational program will help you understand the strategies you can use to help your child improve their concentration and promote self-control. A therapist will assign you activities that you can practise with your child that are tailored to their specific needs and challenges. Read this to know the best ways to work with your child who has ADHD.
Finding a community
ADHD is a disorder that can affect every aspect of a child’s life. As a parent, you need people who are going through the same struggle and can help you with mental and emotional support. You can join our community - Cancel Stigma, to find like-minded people who can make this struggle less painful for you.
Remember that ADHD is a disorder that can be managed with proper guidance and treatment. If you find it challenging to seek professional help from doctors in an offline setting, we have got your back. Book an online consultation with our mental healthcare providers and seek professional advice that can help your child overcome ADHD. Click on the button below to schedule an online consultation with our specialist!
Causes of ADHD: What we know Today. HealthyChildren.org. (n.d.). https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/Causes-of-ADHD.aspx#:~:text=from%20Understood.org.-,Genes%20and%20heredity.,-ADHD%20frequently%20runs
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5-TR. (2022).
American Psychiatric Association Publishing. https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm
Venkata, J. A., & Panicker, A. S. (2013, October). Prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in primary school children. Indian journal of psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890923/#:~:text=The%20prevalence