What is ADHD & ADHD Treatment?

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopment disorders of childhood. Children with ADHD often have trouble with being easily distracted and with sustaining attention, as well as behaving in ways that are disruptive to others or harmful to themselves.

So how do you know when your child’s attention difficulties necessitate treatment?

Does your child?

      • forget or lose things a lot (inattention)

      • fidget or squirm constantly (hyperactivity)

      • talk too much (hyperactivity)

      • make careless mistakes with schoolwork or chores (inattention)

      • procrastinate on homework or chores (inattention)

      • avoid tasks s/he does not enjoy (inattention)

      • have trouble getting along with other children or siblings (hyperactivity)

      • have trouble remembering what to do or not to do (inattention)

      • have a hard time resisting urges to do things parents have said not to do (hyperactivity)

      • daydream or appear lost in space (inattention)

      • run or play in ways that are reckless (hyperactivity)

    There are three subtypes: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and combined inattentive and hyperactive. Symptoms might change over time as the child ages.

    How is ADHD diagnosed?

    There is no single test for ADHD and no single type of provider who diagnoses it. Pediatricians, psychologists and psychiatrists can all diagnose ADHD but might use different methods to do so. Physicians might use checklists and clinical interviews of symptoms while psychologists tend to use cognitive tests.

    I think my child might have ADHD. What do I do?

        1. Keep a log. One place to start is by logging when you notice behaviors that seem inattentive or hyperactive. Is this occurring just at home or just at school or is it happening across settings? Is it worse on school days or on the weekends? With this, you want to rule out that it is one setting where your child is under-stimulated or having more trouble with behavior.

        1. Rule out other factors. Just like adults, kids behavior is complex. Is food, sleep, anxiety, depression, boredom, vision or hearing contributing to the attention problem? Note those things in your log too. Did this only come to light after a parental divorce, job change or move or were these behaviors chronic?

      How does ADHD impact how my child thinks?

          1. For example, some children with ADHD process information more slowly, so it might take them longer to solve problems.

          1. Other children might have trouble with their memory as a result so although information is processed quickly, it might not be getting encoded into short or long term memory.

          1. Still others might process quickly and remember, but it might have incomplete processing. One way to think about this is when you have ADHD it’s as though someone is switching channels on your TV several times so if you were watching four different shows for an hour how much would you know about what happened and the plot of each of those four shows? You might know loosely what happened but the details of how and when it happened might be challenging to Recount if you were asked. That is how attention lapses affect most people.

        What kinds of treatment exist for ADHD?

        Like other disorders, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and therapy.
        Therapy with younger children usually involves meeting with the parents to identify ways to reinforce positive behaviors and school intervention. With older children, therapy might involve play or strategizing ways to cope with distractions.

        Medicine might include psychostimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. In pre-school age children, amphetamines are the only FDA-approved medication. In older children, Clonidine, Guanfacine, Atomoxetine are some of the many other FDA-approved options. The goal of medicine is to improve symptoms in order to restore functioning at home and at school.

        Therapy can help with organizing one’s environment to make it less distracting and and coping with secondary difficulties such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, assertiveness, and performance anxiety— all of which are common comorbidities with ADHD.

        At Columbus Behavioral Health, we offer ADHD Testing and do have many skilled child therapists who can help you and your child. To begin the process of ADHD Testing, start here.

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