Could It Be ADHD?
We all love kids, especially if they are active and a bit naughty, but we tend to get worried about a child who is too quiet. After all, what is a childhood, if one does not throw some tantrums, break a few plates! glasses or pick up a few minor fights! However, these childlike acts should not cross limits as it can easily become a nuisance at home as well as school. Moreover, hyperactivity in children it can hamper learning and development. Parents need to know when this hyperactivity is abnormal and in need of professional help.
The most common illness causing hyperactivity in children is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In order to diagnose ADHD, the child should have features of inattention or hyperactivity/impulsivity and these symptoms should be present for at least six months or more and should be severe enough to disrupt the child’s normal daily life at school and home.
Features Of Inattention
- A complete lack of attention which leads to careless mistakes in schoolwork.
- Failure in maintaining attention to tasks at hand even while playing.
- A lack of focus while being spoken to.
- Failure to follow through the instructions, resulting in incomplete homework, or tasks at home.
- Showing less interest ¡n activities that are meant to task the child mentally.
- Losing things often, such as pencils, erasers, books, slippers, lunch boxes, water bottles etc.
- Easy distractibility with external stimuli.
- Forgetfulness in daily activities of living.
Features Of Hyperactivity
- Fidgeting with his/her hands and feet while sitting.
- Finds it hard to stay motionless in situations where he/she is expected to stay still.
- Running around or climbing stairs more often than necessary.
- Inability to remain quiet while playing or doing leisure activities.
- Seems to be on the go, or appear mechanical.
- Excessive talking.
- Blurting out answers without properly listening to the questions.
- Difficulty in waiting for his/her turn.
- Interrupting or intruding into other people’s conversations or games.
Some or most of these symptoms should start before the age of seven as ADHD usually does not begin after the age of seven years. One should note that certain medications especially anti- epileptic drugs (used for treating fits) can also lead to hyperactivity in children and such cases should not be labeled as ADHD. The exact cause of ADHD is not well known but genetic factors seem to play an important role in causing ADHD.
At present, no laboratory studies (such as biochemical or hematological) or brain scans are necessary for the evaluation or diagnosis of ADHD. However, in cases when there is a doubt in diagnosis or if there is suspicion of alternate diagnoses, investigations can be done.
Treatment of ADHD involves counselling and medical treatment. Parents should be made to understand the nature of the illness and its impact on a child’s daily lite. Once parents understand and accept the diagnosis of ADHD, management is much easier. Teachers at school also play a very important role, as they can provide parents with the feedback about the child’s daily activities and progress at school.
It may be necessary in some cases to shift the child to a special school especially if they are too disruptive. Psychological assessment of the child should be done to detect any associated illness such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, etc. No special diet ¡s needed but too much caffeine intake should be avoided. This is relevant as children tend to consume a lot of caffeine in the form of chocolates, candies, or ‘energy/carbonated’ drinks.
One research study also noted that food colour additives might also predispose children to develop ADHD. With regard to medical treatment, methylphenidate is the drug of choice for treating children with ADHD but due to compliance issues, long acting preparations of the medicine is preferred; to be taken as a once daily dose. However, parents should consult their doctors before using this medication.