All of us, at one time or the other, were probably hyperactive, impulsive and/or inattentive. These are traits that come naturally when great excitement is felt. However, how do you know if your child has
ADD or ADHD? Mikey anticipates going to Disneyland for the first time and has a difficulty focusing on his schoolwork for the next few weeks—daydreaming in class. Does he have ADD? Lizzie only has time to play with her best friend during recess time, thus, teachers often find them running around the playground in frequent bursts of energy. Does this mean that she and her friend have ADHD?
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is a syndrome that interferes with an individual’s ability to focus, regulate activity level, and inhibit behavior. ADHD is one of the most common learning disorders among the youth that occurs two to three times more in boys than girls. ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is similar except for the absence of hyperactivity. Both usually become evident during early childhood, frequently persist into adolescence and occasionally into adulthood.
Exact causes are unknown but scientific evidence shows that these are neurologically based medical problems. Causes considered are imbalances in certain neurotransmitters (most likely dopamine and serotonin) that help the brain regulate focus and behavior.
Difficult pregnancies and problem deliveries;Maternal smoking;Exposure to environmental toxins, such as dioxins, during pregnancy;Brain’s consumption of glucose; andGeneticsThere is a need to mention that all children manifest some symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity at one time of the other. So when are these behaviors cause for worry? Health care specialists look at several factors in order to determine if an individual has either ADD or ADHD.
Was the behavior (inattention, hyperactivity or impulsiveness) observed consistently over a time period of at least six months?
Parents and teachers are often guilty of judging the energy level of children against their own, especially when they are tired from work. The best way to gauge how frequent a behavior is seen is to tally the occurrence per day; allowing adults to be more objective when observing the child’s behavior.
Did it appear before the age of seven?
If your answer is NO and your child was well-behaved and focused in his early childhood, then experts would then look into the possibility that inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are “learned” behaviors. Are your child’s peers too rowdy when with one another? Is there an abundance of sugar and caffeine in his diet?
Is the said behavior evident in more than one setting (e.g., home, school, playground…)?This implies that certain situations, persons and objects can trigger ADD or ADHD-like symptoms if the behavior is inconsistent in different settings. By figuring out the triggers, a child’s behavior maybe improved without the services of a health specialist and even medication.
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If you think your child has ADD or ADHD, seek professional advice and proper diagnosis as soon as possible. In the context of special needs, catching them early is important in addressing their development.
SOURCES: Sousa, D.A. (2001). How the special needs brain learns. Corwin Press, Inc.Sousa, D.A. (2003). How the gifted brain learns. Corwin Press, Inc.