Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed child psychiatric disorder in the world. Its core symptoms are hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. These common childhood behaviors occur on a continuum from normal to abnormal. It can be very difficult to judge what 'normal' behavior is in children; therefore, when evaluating children for ADHD, many doctors try to assess the degree of impairment caused by these behaviors. Estimates of ADHD prevalence amongst school-age children vary within and across world regions and according to how prevalence rates are measured. One study suggests that Europe and North America have lower prevalence of ADHD (5% - 6%); and Africa and South America have higher prevalence (8.5% - 12%). Approximately 75% of children diagnosed with ADHD are boys.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of ADHD will appear over the course of many months, and include:
- Impulsiveness: a child who acts quickly without thinking first.
- Hyperactivity: a child who can't sit still, walks, runs, or climbs around when others are seated, talks when others are talking.
- Inattention: a child who daydreams or seems to be in another world, is sidetracked
by what is going on around him or her.
How is it diagnosed?
If ADHD is suspected, the diagnosis should be made by a professional with training
in ADHD. This includes child psychiatrists, psychologists, developmental/behavioral
pediatricians, behavioral neurologists, and clinical social workers. After ruling
out other possible reasons for the child's behavior, the specialist checks the child's
school and medical records and talks to teachers and parents who have filled out
a behavior rating scale for the child.
A diagnosis is made only after all this information has been considered.
Effective treatments for ADHD are available, and include behavioral therapy and medications.