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What is ADHD?

ADHD is short for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Kids who have ADHD find it difficult to pay attention and are hyperactive, which means they might have trouble sitting still.

Who gets ADHD?

On average, five out of 100 kids have ADHD. But no one is sure why anyone has ADHD, although scientists and doctors think that it probably has to do with differences in the way people's brains work. A kid might have a greater chance of developing ADHD if one of his or her relatives already has ADHD or another type of behavior problem.

What are the signs of ADHD?

o       Trouble concentrating.

o       Easily distracted.

o       Lose things easily.

o       Trouble finishing assignments.

o       Cannot sit still in their seats.

o       Talk too much or interrupt other people’s conversation.

 

It's important to remember that everybody does these things once in a while. It doesn't mean you have ADHD.

What Causes ADHD?

ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, too much sugar, or vaccines.

ADHD has biological origins that aren't yet clearly understood. No single cause of ADHD has been identified, but researchers have been exploring a number of possible genetic and environmental links. Studies have shown that many children with ADHD have a close relative who also has the disorder.

Although experts are unsure whether this is a cause of the disorder, they have found that certain areas of the brain are about 5% to 10% smaller in size and activity in children with ADHD. Chemical changes in the brain have been found as well.

Recent research also links smoking during pregnancy to later ADHD in a child. Other risk factors may include premature delivery, very low birth weight, and injuries to the brain at birth.

Some studies have even suggested a link between excessive early television watching and future attention problems. Parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) guidelines, which say that children under 2 years old should not have any "screen time" (TV, DVDs or videotapes, computers, or video games) and that kids 2 years and older should be limited to 1 to 2 hours per day, or less, of quality television programming.

What Are Some Related Problems?

One of the difficulties in diagnosing ADHD is that it's often found in conjunction with other problems. These are called coexisting conditions, and about two thirds of all children with ADHD have one. The most common coexisting conditions are:

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD)

At least 35% of all children with ADHD also have oppositional defiant disorder, which is characterized by stubbornness, outbursts of temper, and acts of defiance and rule breaking. Conduct disorder is similar but features more severe hostility and aggression. Children who have conduct disorder are more likely get in trouble with authority figures and, later, possibly with the law. Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder are seen most commonly with the hyperactive and combined subtypes of ADHD.

Mood Disorders (such as depression)

About 18% of children with ADHD, particularly the inattentive subtype, also experience depression. They may feel inadequate, isolated, frustrated by school failures and social problems, and have low self-esteem.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders affect about 25% of children with ADHD. Symptoms include excessive worry, fear, or panic, which can also lead to physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, stomach pains, and diarrhea. Other forms of anxiety that can accompany ADHD are obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome, as well as motor or vocal tics (movements or sounds that are repeated over and over). A child who has symptoms of these other conditions should be evaluated by a specialist.

Learning Disabilities

About half of all children with ADHD also have a specific learning disability. The most common learning problems are with reading (dyslexia) and handwriting. Although ADHD isn't categorized as a learning disability, its interference with concentration and attention can make it even more difficult for a child to perform well in school.

If your child has ADHD and a coexisting condition, the doctor will carefully consider that when developing a treatment plan. Some treatments are better than others at addressing specific combinations of symptoms.

Checking It Out

When parents and teachers suspect that a child has ADHD, the first step is to visit the doctor. He or she may then refer the kid to a specialist like a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neurologist who knows about kids who have ADHD and other kinds of behavior problems. Part of the doctor's job is to check for other illnesses that look like ADHD but need different kinds of treatment.

What are some ways to treat ADHD?

Medication: Once the doctor decides that a kid has ADHD, then the doctor, parents, and teachers begin to work together to find out the best way to help. Often this means starting one of the medicines used to treat ADHD, deciding how much medicine is needed, and when to give it. Children with ADHD usually only have to take their medicine once before school, but some may have to go to the nurse in the middle of the school day for medicine.

 

Relaxation therapy: In relaxation therapy, counselors teach kids how to relax and stay calm by doing deep-breathing exercises and relaxing different muscle groups.

 

Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy helps kids with ADHD by teaching them to set goals for themselves and by using rewards to help them reach those goals. Teachers and parents can give a kid with ADHD a reward for sitting still in class or completing assignments at home.

The key to success:

o       Don’t just follow only the treatment plan from doctor

o       Build good friendships with other kids.

 

Many kids with ADHD find that their symptoms get better as they get older. Adults with ADHD can have happy lives, and they can be very successful in whatever they decide to do.

Click here for printable fact sheet about ADHD

"Malamapono no na keiki i ka pae 'aina o Hawaii"~
Caring for the children of Hawaii