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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children & Adolescents

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General Facts:

  1. In a classroom of 30 children or youth, it is likely that at least two students are affected by ADHD.
  2. There are three types of ADHD: the hyperactive-impulsive type, the inattentive type, and the type that is a combination of both.
  3. The severity of ADHD varies among childrens, even siblings, so no two children will have exactly the same symptoms.
  4. Symptoms of ADHD are first seen in children before age 6.
  5. No one knows for sure what causes ADHD, but experts believe it is a combination of things such as genes, lead (found in old paint and plumbing parts), smoking and drinking during pregnancy, certain brain injuries, and food additives (such as artificial coloring, which mike make hyperactivity worse). Many people think that refined sugar causes ADHD, but most research does not support this idea.

Hyperactive-Impulsive Signs:

  1. Feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming while seated.
  2. Running, climbing, or getting up in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected.
  3. Blurting out answers before hearing the whole question.
  4. Having difficulty waiting in line or taking turns.

Inattentive Signs:

  1. May appear to not be listening or seems easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds.
  2. Often failing to pay attention to details & making careless mistakes.
  3. Rarely following instructions carefully, and often losing or forgetting things like toys, pencils, books, or other tools needed for a task.
  4. Often skipping from one uncompleted activity to another.

Before & After Diagnosis:

Because ADHD symptoms can be mistaken for typical childhood behaviors or other mental health issues, it is important how the causes and symptoms are perceived and then described to mental health professionals. Misunderstandings and misperceptions can lead to delayed diagnoses, misdiagnoses, or no diagnoses, which are serious problems when a child needs help. For this reason, doctors will look for other possible causes for the behavior. Sometimes children who are dealing with divorce, death, or other problems act in ways that look like, but aren't, ADHD. Thus, the doctor will ask about things that are happening at home, and will also make sure there are no other diseases or disabilities that might be causing the child's behavior.

If a qualified health care or mental health care provider has diagnosed your child with ADHD, he or she may suggest several different treatment options, including a combination of strategies for managing behaviors, medications, talk therapy, and a system of care.

Medicine & "behavior therapy," are the most common treatments for ADHD. Medicine for ADHD can help children pay attention, finish tasks, and think before they act. Behavior therapy involves meeting with the doctor to work on new skills to make it easier to deal with relationships, rules, limits, and choices.

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