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ADHD

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a mental condition that affects especially children and youngsters throughout the whole world. It is estimated that ADHD affects 5% of school-aged children and that is two to three times more seen in boys than in girls. As the illness remains under-recognised, less than half of the affected children and or adolescents receive a diagnosis. As a result, even fewer children receive the appropriate treatment.

Left untreated, ADHD can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of a child and his/her family. A child with ADHD who has not been diagnosed and has not been given the right treatment is likely to suffer not only academically, but also emotionally and will experience behavioural symptoms into adulthood.

Mostly, ADHD is diagnosed during primary school years. Symptoms of ADHD are present before the age of seven, but can last into adolescence and adulthood. Although symptoms tend to reduce during late adolescence and early adulthood, people do not outgrow ADHD, but they learn to master strategies to compensate for the symptoms.

Until now, the causes of ADHD are still not fully understood, but a genetic element may be involved.

Diagnosing the condition can be difficult, as a number of symptoms are involved. In most cases one symptom will stand out. Depending which of these symptoms are more prominent, a diagnosis of one of the three subtypes of ADHD will be diagnosed will be reached:

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
  • Predominantly inattentive
  • Combined ADHD

The consequences of ADHD for children, their families and for society can be very serious. Children can develop poor self-esteem, emotional and social problems and their educational achievement is frequently severely impaired. The pressure on families can sometimes be very extreme.

Although ADHD causes considerable problems for a child and his/her surroundings, a number of treatments have been developed to treat the condition. These help the child's integration into normal daily life. Treatment includes psychosocial and educational programmes as well as medication, in some cases.

If you suspect your child suffers from ADHD, the first step is talking to your doctor and your child's teacher(s). Your doctor will be able to provide you with more information and refer you to a specialist healthcare professional. Getting information from your child's teacher will be helpful in assessing your child's problem and reaching a diagnosis where appropriate. The earlier ADHD is diagnosed, the better the outcome for the child.

Having a child with ADHD poses significant problems to many parents who often want to hide their child's condition. However, discussing the condition with family and friends can provide much needed support and understanding and relieve the burden of ADHD. ADHD is often misinterpreted as bad behaviour as a result of bad upbringing and education. Nothing is less true; ADHD is a mental behavioural illness and ensuring loved ones, friends and teachers are aware of your child's condition, will not only improve their relationship with your child, but improve family life, support and understanding.