What is it?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms.
Most cases are diagnosed when children are 6 to 12 years old.
The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who are diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience problems.
People with ADHD may also have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.
Signs and Symptoms
ADHD - persistent symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsiveness that can cause educational, social and emotional problems.
Children with ADHD may have difficulty learning, communicating and interacting. They may find it difficult to make and keep friends because of their challenging behaviour.
Typical symptoms of inattention include:
Short attention span
Forgetfulness and losing things
Failure to complete actions
Being unable to stick at tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
Appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
Constantly changing activity or task
Having difficulty organising tasks
Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness include:
Fidgeting - being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
Often "on the go"
Interrupting other people
Inability to wait their turn
Being unable to concentrate on tasks
Excessive physical movement
Acting without thinking
Little or no sense of danger
Most people with ADHD have problems that fall into both these categories, but this isn't always the case. For example, some people with the condition may have problems with inattentiveness, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADD can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.
Here are some hints and tips that may help you cope with caring for your child with ADHD
Focus on the positive: you can help, encourage and support your child.
Find out as much as you can about ADHD Talk to people involved in your child's care Read up on the subject. There are lots of useful websites and resources to download on the internet. Contact a support group. Organisations exist to help people with ADHD and their families.
Think about the positives Focussing on your child's strengths, and praising and rewarding good behaviour, you will boost their confidence and self-esteem. Reward schemes using star charts or points, which gets the child something they want, can help to encourage and maintain good behaviour.
Communicate clearly and specifically Tell your child what you want them to do, rather than what not to do; make sure you have their full attention; be specific with requests (for example, "please pick up your clothes and put them away in the wardrobe, then make your bed" rather than "clear up this mess, your room is a tip!").
Set clear rules Focus on the most important areas of behaviour that you really want to change, and don't waste effort on less important ones.
6. Plan for peace. For example - If long journeys cause a problem, break them up with frequent stops. Always plan ahead. Organise things to avoid undue stress and confrontation.
7. Distinguish the behaviour from the child
8. Is it something the can't do - or won't do. Learn the recognise when their behaviour is something they can't help or are they just being willful.
9. Use techniques like 'One, Two, Three Magic'. Count one when you want the behaviour to stop. If it doesn't stop, then count two. If the behaviour still doesn't stop then there is a time out - Time out provides a way for both you and your child to cool off. Choose a designated place (a chair, a step, a corner) and use a clock or timer for the time out period (five or ten minutes). Be firm: don't speak to your child during the time out and don't answer them if they speak. When the time is up, the slate is clean. If they refuse to go the designated place, impose a sanction - loss of computer time etc - and stick to it.
10. Look after yourself This bit is important. You cannot be a good parent and do the best for your child if you don't look after your own health. Being the parent of a child with ADHD can be exhausting, frustrating and demoralising.