Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is not simply a problem with paying attention. ADHD makes it difficult for both children and adults to manage the many multiple tasks of daily life, especially intricate chores that require planning and prolonged focus.
The signs and symptoms of ADHD typically appear before a child's seventh birthday. It can be challenging to distinguish between ADHD and normal "child-like" behavior. But, if your child shows numerous ADHD signs and symptoms that are present at school, home, and out in public, it's a good idea to take a closer look.
The three primary characteristics of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity.
The most obvious sign of ADHD is hyperactivity, which is having behavior characterized by constant over-activity. These children generally can't sit still, constantly fidget or always are on the move.
Children with ADHD often:
Are hyperactive, but many others with attention problems are not;
Appear to be spacey and unmotivated;
Are able to concentrate on activities they enjoy;
Have trouble maintaining focus when a task seems boring or repetitive;
Gets bored with a task before it's completed;
Appear to be disobedient, or not listen when spoken to;
Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions;
Makes careless mistakes and does not pay attention to details;
Frequently loses or misplaces things such as homework or toys;
Constantly fidgets and can't sit still;
Staying "on track" is another common problem. Children with ADHD often bounce from task to task without ever completing any of them or skip necessary steps in procedures. These actions are referred to as inattention.
Organizing their schoolwork and their time is harder for them than it is for most children. Kids with ADHD also have trouble concentrating if there are too many distractions going on around them or if it's noisy. They usually need a calm, quiet environment in order to stay focused and fully concentrate.
Children who have self-control issues or interrupt conversations may have the impulsivity characteristic of ADHD. Waiting patiently tends to be much more difficult for children with ADHD. Children with impulsive signs also tend to be moody and often overreact.
ADHD is challenging, but once you understand it, you can learn to take advantage of its many strengths. Some common positive traits associated with people who have ADHD are:
Creativity - Can be artistic, creative and imaginative;
Versatility - May be more open to different ideas and are "outside of the box" thinkers;
Enthusiasm - Can be interested in many different things and are a lot of fun to be with;
Liveliness - They work or play hard to succeed at what interests them, especially if the activity is hands-on.
Children with ADHD need structure, clear communication and rewards for positive behavior. They also need lots of attention, support and encouragement. As a parent of a child with ADHD, it is important to remember to:
Keep a positive attitude and encourage your children when they do their best.
Keep routines that encourage organization and structure.
Set clear, simple-to-follow rules.
Encourage physical activities.
Allow your child to get proper rest.
Feed them the proper foods by reducing fatty and sugary foods from their diets.
Be loving and forgiving.
Life with a child with ADHD can be difficult, but as a parent there is a lot you can do to help control the symptoms. The earlier you address your child's problems, the quicker they will benefit.
For questions about ADHD, see a doctor or call Dr. Sabir Khan at Jersey Shore Medical Associates' family practice office in Avis at 753-8620 to set up an appointment.
Khan is a family medicine physician at Jersey Shore Medical Associates and sees patients in both Avis and Lock Haven.