Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention or control impulsive behaviors, explained the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), a medical research center. That means the individual may be restless and almost constantly active. Hence, if you think that your little one is constantly interrupting others or they find it hard to pay attention to the point that these actions are affecting their daily life, then it could be a sign of ADHD.
However, ADHD is not just a childhood disorder even if the signs of this condition begin in childhood. In fact, it can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Hyperactivity tends to improve as the child becomes a teenager, problems with disorganization, inattention, and poor impulse control usually continue throughout their teenage years and into adulthood. ADHD can affect your child at school, at home, and in friendships, noted KidsHealth, a physician-reviewed information and advice website.
The worldwide prevalence of ADHD among children is estimated at 5.4% while the prevalence of adult ADHD is about 2.5%, though figures vary, said the ADHD Editorial Board, via Additude, a publication about ADHD.
As of 2016, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities scientists Melissa L. Danielson and colleagues found that 6.1 million (9.4%) children aged two to 17 years in the US had been diagnosed with ADHD, down from 6.4 million in 2011, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US’s leading public health institute. The 2011 figure was an increase from 2007’s 5.4 million and 2003’s 4.4 million. Boys (12.9%) were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls (5.6%).
The scientists found that six out of 10 kids (62%) were taking medication for their ADHD, representing one out of 20 of all US children. The number increased to 60% among the youngest children aged two to five years. All in all, 77% received treatment and of these, about 30% were treated with medication alone, about 15% received behavioral treatment alone, and about 32% of children with ADHD received both medication treatment and behavioral treatment.
64% or two-thirds had another mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder like conduct disorder (52%), anxiety (33%), depression (17%), autism (14%), and Tourette syndrome (1%). Sadly, about 23% of children with ADHD received neither medication treatment nor behavioral treatment. Raising a child with ADHD costs five times more than raising a child without ADHD, per the 2019 study of Xin Zhao and colleagues published in Springer Link, an online collection of peer-reviewed journals. They found that neurotypical families spent an average of $2,848 per child compared to $15, 036 spend by families with ADHD children, cited Additude.
The publication also mentioned that approximately 41% to 44% of families with at least one child diagnosed with ADHD have at least one parent with the condition.
What Are the Signs of ADHD?
Children tend to struggle to pay attention, listen, follow directions, sit still, or wait for their turn. However, these struggles are harder and occur more often for kids with ADHD.
Kids who are easily distracted experience difficulty concentrating, focusing their attention, and staying on task. They may not listen well to directions and may not finish what they start. They may also miss important details or daydream or dawdle excessively. Kids may also appear absent-minded or forgetful and lose track of their belongings.
They are fidgety, restless, and easily bored. Sitting still or staying quiet when needed is a challenge. Children may tend to make careless mistakes or rush through things. Their actions may disrupt others or may climb, jump, roughhouse.
Impulsive kids act quickly before thinking. They tend to struggle with waiting for a period of time and often interrupt, push, or grab others. They may do things without permission, take someone’s belongings, or act in ways that seem risky or dangerous. Children may also elicit intense emotional reactions that seem for the situation.
What Are the Causes of ADHD?
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), NIH, and across the country are currently studying the causes of this condition. ADHD may be caused by interactions between genes and environmental or non-genetic factors.
A number of factors may contribute to ADHD such as genes, cigarette smoking, alcohol use or drug use during pregnancy, exposure to environmental toxins like high levels of lead at a young age, low birth weight, and brain injuries.
Parenting a Child With ADHD
1. Accept Your Child
Your child is not perfect and it is often difficult for parents to accept something atypical about them, noted Deborah Carpener of ADDitude, a New York-based magazine about ADHD. However, if your child senses your resentment and pessimism about their prospects, they are less likely to develop the self-esteem and can-do spirit they will need to become a happy, well-adjusted adult.
Ken Brown-Gratchev, Ph.D., a special education instructor at Kaiser Permanente, stated, “For a child to feel accepted and supported, he needs to feel that his parents have confidence in his abilities.”
2. Stop Believing All the “Bad News”
It hurts when school employees say your child is “slow” or unmotivated. But you should not let these negative remarks hinder you from doing everything you need to advocate for your child’s educational needs. Kids with ADHD can become successful if they get the help they need. Treatment options include behavior therapy, medicine to jumpstart the brain’s ability to use more self-control, parent coaching, and school support.
3. Know the Difference Between Discipline and Punishment
Discipline means including an explanation for why the behavior is bad and redirecting it to acceptable behavior through positive reinforcement, stated Sal Severe, Ph.D., the author of “How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too.” Alternatively, punishment uses fear and shame to force the child to behave properly.
The best way to discipline a child with ADHD is through behavior modification. This means establishing appropriate, feasible goals, rewarding each small achievement your child makes until the new behavior becomes routine. This way, you can make your child feel more successful and make them more motivated to do the right things.
Don’t punish your child for behaviors they can’t control such as distractibility as this can jeopardize the parent-child relationship. Instead, remind your child to do what you want to do like making their bed. A child with ADHD fails to follow your orders because they are distracted from the task at hand.
4. Look At Your Child’s Positive Behaviors
Happiness and laughter should be the cornerstones of family life. Spend quality time with your child by playing with them at the park and going on bike rides. You can even discuss movies.
“When you point out and praise desirable behaviors, you teach her what you want — not what you don’t want,” Dr. Severe said.
Raising a child with ADHD can be daunting and challenging for parents, but they should not look at this condition in a negative light. Children can be successful if they get help or are surrounded by a supportive community. Be the best role model your child can ever have—support them in their endeavors and acknowledge their positive traits.