ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is marked by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity or both. It affects a child’s ability to focus, finish their homework, socialise with peers and take care of everyday tasks such as getting ready for school.
There have been several studies on the prevalence of ADHD in India. One such study by the National Library of Medicine revealed that the prevalence of ADHD was around 11.32% in primary school children (ages 6-11) in Coimbatore, India.
This made it harder for children to perform well academically and socialise with their classmates. They faced reading and writing difficulties more than the children who did not have ADHD.
The study also revealed that the prevalence of ADHD was more in boys (66.7%) than in girls (33.3%). Children from lower socio-economic groups showed signs of ADHD more than the children from middle socio-economic groups.
To clinically diagnose a child with ADHD, it’s important to visit a professional and observe if they are experiencing the symptoms for at least 6 continuous months. The symptoms of ADHD are usually present within 12 years of age.
A mental healthcare professional may get in touch with the parents/guardian of the child to diagnose ADHD. Most often than not, what looks like the symptoms of ADHD can be a result of another underlying mental health disorder, such as autism spectrum disorder.
Treatment available for children with ADHD
Effective management of ADHD in children involves a multi-faceted approach that combines behavioural therapy, lifestyle changes, medication and training. The treatment plans help children with ADHD manage their day-to-day lives better and improve their overall well-being.
Seeking professional help from a healthcare professional (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or paediatrician) is the first crucial step in managing ADHD effectively.
Ways to diagnose ADHD
A mental healthcare professional will be able to diagnose ADHD by getting in touch with the child as well as their parents/guardians. They will ask questions that will help them understand the history, socioeconomic status and other background information. Standardised assessment tools will also help in professionally diagnosing ADHD in a child.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 TR), these are the conditions that should match before diagnosing a child with ADHD:
- They must have been experiencing the symptoms (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity) for at least 6 continuous months
- The symptoms must have existed before the age of 12
- The child must be showcasing these symptoms in more than one social setting (for example, home and school)
- These symptoms must not be a result of oppositional behaviour (hostility or defiance) to a particular teacher or a parent
- The symptoms must be negatively impacting their social, academic and occupational activities
Behavioural therapy is a good way to teach essential techniques and skills to children and their parents to help them overcome the challenges of ADHD.
A therapist will encourage parents to practise those skills with the child at home or during the therapy session. Cognitive behavioural therapy helps a child change their behaviour, evaluate their patterns, and get better control of their thoughts and feelings.
Social Skills Training (SST) helps children develop social skills and form better relationships with their peers and family members. By empowering both parents and children with these valuable tools, behavioural therapy helps a child get better at management and organisation.
Children suffering from ADHD can also be prescribed medication by their mental health professionals.
Medications such as methylphenidate and amphetamine-based drugs are useful in enhancing attention and reducing hyperactivity. It is important to note that these medications must be taken under supervision and should be prescribed by a psychiatrist or a doctor. The amount of dosage needed, the information about side effects, and the child’s response to medication are all important factors that should be considered.
Children who suffer from ADHD often feel isolated or left out, especially when they do not get the right support from their parents, family members and educators. Academic support can be provided by implementing strategies that cater to the specific needs of the children.
A study revealed that classwide peer tutoring is a good way to help children who show signs of ADHD. It helps children participate actively in academic tasks (finishing schoolwork, for instance) and increases their self-esteem.
Classwide peer tutoring usually involves dividing students into small groups where they get to play the roles of both tutors and tutees. By working in collaboration, students get to understand concepts, provide feedback and learn practical skills for better academic performance.
How to treat children with ADHD at home?
Parenting a child with ADHD can be difficult, but certain lifestyle changes can help overcome the symptoms of ADHD.
A diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish oil) and iron supplements may improve ADHD symptoms. Food rich in zinc and magnesium also has additional benefits.
Regular physical exercise can improve attention, executive functions and motor skills in children. Parents can encourage children to exercise daily by rewarding them when they do so.
Parental training can help children find the right support at home and make progress in everyday tasks.
A study published by The Indian Journal of Occupational Therapy revealed that parents of children with ADHD often face difficulty in organising and managing the daily routine (which involves study schedule, meal routine, bedtime routine and so on) for their children.
Setting up routines is important to help children organise their time and finish important tasks in those specific blocks of time.
Setting up clear expectations and creating space for open communication is also an important step in helping children cope with ADHD effectively.
Online Support Groups
Support groups can help children find the right environment where they can relate to the experiences of their peers who are going through the same struggles. They can find accountability partners who will help them finish certain tasks together.
Parents can get access to new resources and emotional support that can help them learn effective strategies to assist their children with ADHD. If you are looking for a support group, check this community out: Cancel Stigma.
ADHD Treatment in India
In India, though awareness of child ADHD is growing, there is still a stigma attached to mental health disorders. This leads to negative stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination and makes it difficult for children with ADHD to seek treatment.
In such cases, online therapy platforms like Rocket Health India are a helpful option. Parents can connect with a certified mental health professional at their own convenience and seek the right treatment for their child.
How Rocket Health India Can Help?
Our online therapy platform brings together qualified mental healthcare professionals who offer personalised treatment plans for mental health disorders, including ADHD. Our online assessment test helps children connect with the right psychologist based on their answers to the questions. Seeking the right help and support can make the process less difficult.
If your child or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, don't wait to seek help. Take the first step today by taking the online ADHD assessment test and connecting with the right mental healthcare professional.
- Akam-Venkata, J., & Panicker, A. S. (2013, January 1). Prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in primary school children. Indian Journal of Psychiatry; Medknow. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.120544
- DuPaul, G. J., Ervin, R. A., Hook, C. L., & McGoey, K. E. (1998, December 1). PEER TUTORING FOR CHILDREN WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER: EFFECTS ON CLASSROOM BEHAVIOR AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis; Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1901/jaba.1998.31-579
- Sun, W., Yu, M., & Zhou, X. (2022, May 1). Effects of physical exercise on attention deficit and other major symptoms in children with ADHD: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research-neuroimaging; Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2022.114509
- Shikerkar, D. (2022, July 1). Understanding daily routine and schedule of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A qualitative study. ijotonweb.org. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoth.ijoth_26_21
- Mechler, K., Banaschewski, T., Hohmann, S., & Häge, A. (2022, February 1). Evidence-based pharmacological treatment options for ADHD in children and adolescents. Pharmacology & Therapeutics; Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2021.107940