What is ADHD?
As a parent, you know that children can sometimes be boisterous, restless, inattentive, disorganised, noisy or forgetful. So what distinguishes "normal" challenging behaviour from ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed when a child shows abnormally high levels of:
- Inattention,1 for example your child has a short attention span and is easily distracted, disorganised or forgetful, and is unable to complete actions
- Hyperactivity and impulsiveness,1 for example your child may fidget, talk too much, interrupt other people, be unable to sit still or wait their turn or is always "on the go"
To qualify as true ADHD, these problems must:
- Be long term.1 This means that the symptoms have been present for at least six months
- Be abnormal for the child's age or developmental stage.1 Behaviour that is normal and acceptable in a two year-old may not be normal at the age of ten
- Have started by seven years of age.1 ADHD is part of the child's make-up, and symptoms often emerge very early on
- Be genuinely disruptive1 to the child's everyday life and wellbeing
- Occur in more than one setting;1 this means that at home as well as school
ADHD affects children to varying degrees and in different ways, but it can have a serious impact on everyday functioning and relationships. Children with severe ADHD often perform poorly at school, have social and emotional problems and may suffer from low self-esteem.2
ADHD can persist into adolescence and adulthood, and can be associated with problems such as substance misuse, unemployment, and involvement in crime.2 It is therefore important for children to be diagnosed accurately and for a treatment plan to be put in place.