My kid never sits still! My kid never listens to me! I have to repeat myself multiple times! I cannot get my kid to focus on anything! He/she was a bright student when young but now his grades are dropping.
Does this sound familiar? ADHD is a common condition that can cause problems with learning, focus, and impulsive behavior. However, it is important to note that children can have trouble in these areas for various reasons. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician.
What is ADHD or ADD?
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome, is a neurodevelopmental condition with two main groups of symptoms:
- Problems with maintaining focus/attention
People diagnosed with ADHD may have more difficulty in one of these groups in particular or may struggle with both.
What causes ADHD?
We don’t know for sure what causes ADHD, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Scientists are also studying whether prematurity and maternal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and environmental toxins such as lead may increase the risk.
ADHD symptoms can be overlapping with or can be a manifestation of other underlying problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, anxiety or traumatic childhood experience, family disruption, or a learning disability.
How is it diagnosed?
When you visit your pediatrician with your concern, he/she will take a thorough history to determine if your child’s symptoms are due to ADHD or if another underlying condition is suspected. Your pediatrician may also request information from the child’s teacher, school psychologists, and other family members to determine how your child is doing in different environments.
Based on this collective data your pediatrician can determine if your child has ADHD.
Will my child need medication?
Whether your child will need medication depends on how ADHD is affecting you and your child’s life. Based on the severity of the symptoms and the impairment being caused, your pediatrician will discuss treatment options which may include observation, counseling, school accommodation, medication, and other therapies as appropriate.
What can I do to help my child?
We all want our kids to have the tools to succeed and reach their highest potential. Here are a few ways you can help support your child:
- Set up visual or audio reminders for daily tasks such as getting ready in the morning and at bedtime.
- Limit daily home screen time to 2 hours or less.
- Get 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
- At school, have your child write homework reminders on a notepad.
- While doing homework, breaking tasks into smaller steps may be helpful.
- You can also talk to your child’s teacher to see what can be done to help your child at school.
Are there any books I can read to learn more?
- Taking charge of ADHD by Russell Barkley
Remember not every child who does not listen or who is always on the go has ADHD, but if you see multiple symptoms or have concerns about your child’s behavior, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician.