Though Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be difficult to diagnose, it’s estimated that over 6 million children in America have it. In this post, we’ll define ADHD; discuss why there is a month dedicated to making the public aware of the disorder and explore ways to seek help if you suspect your child or someone you love may suffer from it.
ADHD is a mental disorder that causes an inability to focus, trouble with organization and a difficulty with detail-oriented tasks. Though it mostly affects children, adults can also suffer from ADHD.
Though the cause and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, research suggests that there is a large genetic component involved. Other possible factors include premature delivery, low birth weight, alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, injuries to the brain and exposure to toxins at a young age or in utero.
ADHD Symptoms and Diagnosis
Because so many other issues such as sleep challenges, learning disabilities and anxiety can have similar symptoms to ADHD, the testing and diagnosis for it can be extensive. Once a parent or guardian suspects a child may have ADHD, the doctor will most likely meet with them to gather information about the child’s behavior. Often times, they’ll consider the volume and variety of inattention indicators, and how long they have displayed these behaviors, to reach a positive ADHD diagnosis. Some common indicators include:
- Doesn’t listen when spoken to directly.
- Has difficulty organizing tasks.
- Is easily distracted (even from activities they enjoy).
- Doesn’t have good attention to detail.
- Loses important items that relate to everyday activities, such as keys, eyeglasses, school supplies, etc.)
- Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or household chores.
- Has trouble following through on commitments like homework.
- Can’t hold attention during activities.
- Is generally forgetful.
- Expresses discontent for or loses interest easily in long-term projects.
- Squirms in seat or fidgets.
- Talks excessively.
- Unable to play or participate in structured activities quietly.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others.
- Has difficulty waiting their turn in structured situations.
With adults, the symptoms may appear different and manifest in extreme restlessness to the exhaustion and exasperation of friends and family nearby.
Treatments for ADHD vary based on the age of the individual and their specific needs. For very young children, parents and caretakers will usually be trained in behavior management; for older children, in addition to that, there may be medication introduced to lessen the severity of symptoms. Plus, for school age children, their teachers and coaches may be consulted to participate in a comprehensive approach that provides consistent direction for the child.
There are basic things parents can try at home that may help the child gain more control over their ADHD like solidifying a routine, limiting choices to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed and creating a goal and reward plan for good behavior.
About ADHD Awareness Month
The mission of ADHD Awareness Month states that they aim “to educate the public about ADHD by disseminating reliable information based on the evidence of science and peer-reviewed research.”
The 2020 theme for ADHD Awareness Month is “Common Questions: Reliable Answers” — throughout the month the ADHD Awareness Month website will share ADHD-focused Q&As scripted by experts.
The organizers invite those with ADHD who have creative gifts with words and images to contribute memes, artwork and stories to be entered into a drawing for valuable prizes. Learn more at adhdawarenessmonth.org.
Contact a Medical Professional
If you or someone you love suffers from ADHD, or you suspect you or they may have it, the team at Western Washington Medical Group can help. Request an appointment with a doctor in our Family Practice or Department of Psychology. For more general inquiries, complete the form on this page.