Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a problem with (or combination of) inattentiveness, over-activity and impulsivity out of the normal range for that individual’s age and development.

ADHD is considered the one of the most common behavioural disorders in children. It is generally more prevalent in boys and sometimes continues until adulthood.

Causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The definitive cause of ADHD is not known, however, scientific research suggests it is primarily genetic with a combination of other factors, including:

  • Slow development of the prefrontel cortex of the brain which controls an individual’s “executive functions”, (e.g. managing frustration, restraining outbursts, planning, problem solving and keeping focused).
  • Children with low birth weight, trauma during birth, head injury or subject to passive smoking have shown increased incidence of ADHD
  • Children subject to unstable family environments increases the likelihood of ADHD developing in a child who is already at risk

There is no scientific evidence indicating that ADHD is learnt or passed on socially, nor related to diet.

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The typical symptoms of ADHD fall into the following three groups:

Inattention

  • Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
  • Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Often has trouble organising activities
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (e.g. schoolwork or homework)
  • Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
  • Is often easily distracted
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity

  • Often fidgets with hands or feet when remaining still is expected
  • Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected
  • Often excessively runs about or climbs when not appropriate
  • Often has trouble playing or doing leisure activities quietly
  • Is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
  • Often talks excessively

Impulsivity

  • Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished
  • Often has trouble waiting one’s turn
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others

Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

At Think Psychological Services we approach behavioural intervention for ADHD children in three parts — parenting training, school interventions and child-focused treatments.

1. Start with goals the child can achieve.

2. Be consistent.

3. Understand there is no short term fix.

4. Improvement will be gradual.

Teaching parents more effective ways of dealing with their children is the most important aspect of psychosocial treatment for ADHD.  Ideally, parent, teacher, and child interventions must be integrated to yield the best outcome.

At Think Psychological Services we advocate the importance of:

  • Starting with goals that the child can achieve and improve in small steps
  • Always be consistent across different times of the day, different settings and different people
  • Understanding that ADHD is a chronic problem for the individual and treatments need to be implemented over the long term
  • Teaching and learning new skills takes time and the child’s improvement will be gradual with behaviour modification
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)