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What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD)?

ADHD is a common behavioral disorder that affects 8.8% of school-age children (1 out of 11). Boys (12.1%) continue to be more than twice as likely than girls (5.5%) to have current ADHD. Symptom categories include inattention (poor concentration, poor short term memory, forgets instructions, easily distracted, difficulty organizing themselves) and hyperactivity/impulsivity (speaks and acts without thinking, interrupts, restless, fidgety, talks excessively, difficulty waiting turn).  Children with ADHD often have other associated difficulties like learning difficulty, speech delay, oppositional/non-compliant behavior, social problems, anxiety and sleep disturbance.

Types of ADHD

There are 3 main types of ADHD.

  • ADHD (combined type) where features from all categories are present. This is the commonest type of ADHD
  • ADHD (predominantly inattentive type) where mainly features from the inattentive category are present. Children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they are doing. Therefore, the child may be overlooked, and parents and teachers may not notice that he or she has ADHD. This type is commoner in girls.
  • ADHD (predominantly hyperactive/impulsive) where mainly features of hyperactivity/impulsivity are present. This type is less commonly seen in practice. Generally, hyperactive children tend to pay less attention.

What Causes ADHD

ADHD is a neurological disorder that seems to be caused by chemical imbalance in the brain. It is strongly hereditary so many children who are diagnosed with ADHD have a parent or close relative with similar problems.

How is it Diagnosed?

ADHD is diagnosed by a developmental Paediatrician, Psychiatrist or mental health professional. There is no simple test to diagnose ADHD. A diagnosis is made by gathering information from parents and teachers, and a physical examination (including assessing for sensory difficulties – hearing and vision). Rating scales questionnaires (filled by parents and teachers) are often used. It is important to assess for other difficulties known to be associated ADHD.

Management of ADHD

ADHD is managed by a combination of methods including: Medication, behavior strategies, Fish oil (except with known allergies or bleeding disorder), allied health therapy (speech, occupational therapy, counseling).

What does the future hold?

ADHD is a life long condition that a child will learn to cope with as they get older. Some children may benefit from continuing medication for several years. Many children and adults with ADHD lead a ‘normal’ life, going on to further study, getting a job and having stable relationships, as long as they are treated and given all the opportunities that they can when they are younger.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Shola Faniran. (MBBS, PhD, FRACP)

Developmental Paediatrician


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