There are number of brain disorders affecting young children and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one among them. Few children will get it resolved with this disorder and many others carry it through adolescence and even adulthood. Symptoms of one child to the other vary significantly based on the intensity of disorder.
Research indicates that the brain of a child affected with ADHD will have delayed maturation and the delay is more profound in regions that involve thinking, planning and paying attention. There will be abnormal growth on the brain portion that is vital for communication and learning. It is believed that this delay in maturation of brain and abnormal structure can cause ADHD. Treatment mainly involves giving therapy and medications but the symptoms cannot cure completely.
ADHD Symptoms :
Children affected with ADHD will have great difficulty in concentration and paying attention. Initial symptoms will appear in 2-3 years of age. They get easily distracted, have problems in organizing even simple tasks, have problems in following instructions, overly impulsive in behavior, and are overly talkative. They cannot sit calmly in one place for more minutes and will interrupt with others while playing games. They cannot hold on to wait for their turn.
This disorder is largely seen in boys rather than girl children. One should not get confused with the normal behavior of hyperactivity of small children with ADHD. Many preschoolers will not show interest in one subject and are often distracted. They remain energetic all through the day but healthy children will get along with friends at home and mainly their schoolwork will not get affected because of their nature.
Causes Of ADHD :
- Some believe ADHD can be genetic running in families. Some are of opinion that this disorder can originate from environmental factors and some say that it can be due to neurological problems. Exact cause of this disorder remains blank. Women who are frequently under the influence of alcohol and smoke during their pregnancy can deliver the child with ADHD.
- Children born with severe brain injury may show some of the symptoms of ADHD. Certain type of genes was found to be less developed and thinner in ADHD children than other children. However when they grew up the genes became thick and accordingly their symptoms also improved.
Who Are At Risk ?
A child may develop ADHD if he has any relative with similar mental disorder. Prolonged exposure to poisonous chemicals like lead and polychlorinated biphenyls can cause this problem in children.
- Children with this disorder will have to struggle hard to get through in his class which may cause academic failure. They may develop low self esteem which in the long run may ruin their personality. These children are often subjected to pressure by peers.
- When they grow up to adult, they can easily get drawn in habits like alcohol or substance abuse to forget their abnormality. Though ADHD will not cause any physiological problem still it can cause anxiety disorders, learning disability, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and Tourette syndrome.
ADHD Tests :
- Your doctor will examine the child, his behavior closely and collect necessary information from the parents. No concrete tests are available for detecting ADHD.
- Some doctors use rating scales for collecting information about the child. The doctor and counselor will look for the symptoms described for inattention such as often has difficulty in listening, and organizing tasks, whether the child gets easily distracted and is forgetful in routine activities.
- For detecting hyperactivity, he will check if the child has difficulty in playing or doing activities quietly, whether he fidgets with his hands or squirms in his sat and often talks too much or is interrupting the conversation of others. The child should possess some behaviors that normal children do not have and his/her symptoms should affect the relationship in his school or home.
- Children with ADHD are either hyperactive or inattentive in nature. The doctor will take help from the counselor, speech therapist and psychiatrist for completing the diagnoses.
ADHD Treatment :
A child with ADHD should be given combined treatments of medication, counseling and therapy. No straightforward treatment is available for curing ADHD but the treatments can only reduce the symptoms to some extent. Psychostimulants are usually prescribed for this disorder which is effective the boosting the levels of chemicals in brain. Some of the common stimulants given are Ritalin, concerta and Dexedrine. The intensity of dosage is determined based on the individual symptoms of the child. These drugs can cause heart problems in children and hence should be carefully given and monitored. Other side effects of stimulants are loss of appetite, sleeping problems, and induce funny behavior.
Antidepressants like Wellbutrin, desipramine, bupropion, clonidine and quanfacine are highly effective and are prescribed if the children cannot take stimulant medications. It is for the parents to monitor that their child takes right dosage of medications daily. Make sure that you are personally giving these drugs each time and do not allow the child to take them independently. Always keep such medications in the locker.
Several kinds of behavior therapy like psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy and conditioning are used for modifying the behavior of the children with ADHD. The child can overcome anxiety; depression related disorders and the counselor will teach them how to overcome difficult situations. Family therapy is given for the parents and the siblings to relieve the stress when dealing with the child with this disorder.
For Adults :
First ADHD disorder is diagnosed in adults and stimulants and antidepressants are given for adults also for reducing the symptoms. But a doctor who treats adult should carefully consider several factors and health conditions of the adult like diabetes, blood pressure and heart problems etc.
Lifestyle Changes :
As a parent you should express your love and affection to the child verbally and physically. The child should understand that mother or father cares very much for his wellbeing. Spend maximum time with your child and openly appreciate the personality of the child to boost his self esteem.
In case your child is good in certain areas like music, dance or arts then make every effort to improve his talent in that subject. Always maintain timing for meals and bedtime. Parents should be patient and understanding and do not expect results overnight. There are special schools available for children with ADHD and frequently communicate with the teachers about your child’s progress.
Alternative Medicine :
Yoga and meditation can help the child to improve his concentration and relax him when he is stressed. Talk to a dietician to formulate special diet with herbal supplements, vitamins and essential fatty acids. Some parents use electro encephalographic EEG training in regular intervals for improving the child focus and attention on certain tasks.
It is not possible to prevent ADHD but you can reduce the risk by avoiding alcohol and smoking when you are pregnant. Limit the exposure of your child to toxins and other pollutants and poisonous chemicals.