You may have encountered children who just cannot sit still, behave in appropriate situations (like in a church setting), talk too much, or can’t wait their turn. You may have chalked them up to poor parental guidance and bad breeding; but, the truth of the matter may be that these kids are afflicted with a developmental disorder called ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental syndrome that is most commonly diagnosed in childhood, although this disorder may last well into the adult years.
Children with ADHD generally exhibit 3 broad symptoms and these “sub-symptoms”:
- Very short attention spans
- Are easily distracted so they usually leave one task or activity often unfinished to jump to another
- Seemingly appear to be tuning you out when spoken to
- Have difficulty focusing and therefore finishing a task
- Are easily bored with a task/activity unless supremely enjoyable
- Have difficulty learning new things because of focus issues
- Have a tough time following instructions
- Forget things, miss out on details, lose things, and have problems completing assignments or schoolwork
- Very Impulsive
- Do things without thought of situational context or consequence
- Are abnormally talkative
- Have an overwhelming urge to get what they want immediately so that delayed gratification or waiting in line become major issues
- Constantly make inappropriate remarks or comments
- Have hardly any emotional restraints
- Act without thought to social or physical consequences
- Are constantly active or on-the-go; stillness seems to be an alien or disagreeable physical state
- Do incessant touching or playing with anything in their line of sight
- Are impatient
- Have difficulty doing quiet time activities like reading and drawing
Because ADHD causes cognitive and behavioural problems, it can render children diagnosed with the disorder, socially unlikable and academically hampered. It is therefore important that suspected kids be diagnosed correctly and early on so that suitable measures can be taken to help them integrate themselves well into their social milieu.
Does ADHD Mean Low Intellect?
ADHD may trouble children of differing intellectual capacities. ADHD has no bearing at all with I.Q. In fact, many tested ADHD patients have shown above average intelligence, despite their academically poor achievements. Some intelligent adults with persistent ADHD have even managed success as “out-of-the-box” thinkers; but this trend is not ubiquitous.
The problem with ADHD-afflicted individuals is not their intelligence but their chronic inability to use their smarts to work productively and form the necessary social relationships to get things done.
Low Diagnosis of ADHD in U.K. than in U.S.
ADHD occurs in as much as 3%-9% of school-age children in the U.K. Unfortunately, many of these cases remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. According to the 2013 University of Exeter research published in the “Journal of Autism Developmental Disorders,” U.K. kids are less likely to be recognized with ADHD than U.S. children.
Among a representative population sample of 19,000 U.K. children, only 1.5% between the ages of 6-8 years old have been diagnosed with the syndrome in 2009. On the other hand, about 6.3% of kids between the ages of 5-9 years in the U.S. have been discovered to have ADHD.
The study points out that autism diagnosis in the U.K. is rising, however, and suggests that British children diagnosed with autism may have the probability of being beset by an attention deficit disorder instead. It is therefore important to make sure a child is diagnosed correctly with the proper syndrome to avoid the failure of corrective therapies.
Although ADHD is more common in children and adolescents, these same individuals may carry their syndrome well into adulthood and old age. It was thought then that the disorder would wane when a child becomes an adult. In many cases, it has; although, studies now have discovered that ADHD can well last a lifetime.
Just as in childhood, undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD can limit (in some cases, severely) the opportunities and quality of an adult’s life as it can profoundly affect their personal and working relationships, the organisation of their daily lives, and their career prospects. Unfortunately, literature on adult ADHD is few because studies have focused mostly on children.
Adults with ADHD can exhibit forgetfulness which may be misdiagnosed as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Again, it is important that these individuals receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment of ADHD
Unfortunately, ADHD cannot be cured (be wary of therapies that claim otherwise) but it can be managed well. Treatment consists of a long-term plan that involves not only the regulation of the child’s behaviour but also the family’s and ideally, even the school’s education on ADHD.
In most cases, ADHD is managed with a blend of both drug and behavioural therapy. Alternative treatments such as occupational therapy may be brought in the mix.