What is ADHD?
As a teacher, you know that every child 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,2 for example short attention span, easily distracted, disorganised, forgetful, does not complete actions
- Hyperactivity and impulsiveness,2 for example fidgeting, inability to sit still, often on the go, talking too much, interrupting other people, inability to wait their turn
To qualify as true ADHD, these problems must:
- Be long term2 - that means that the symptoms have been present for at least six months
- Be abnormal for the child's age or developmental stage.2 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.2 ADHD is part of the child's make-up, and symptoms often emerge very early on
- Be genuinely disruptive2 to the child's everyday life and wellbeing
- Occur in more than one setting2 e.g. home and 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 perform poorly at school, have social and emotional problems and may suffer from low self-esteem.1
ADHD can persist into adolescence and adulthood and can be associated with problems such as substance misuse, unemployment, and involvement in crime.1 It is therefore important for children to be diagnosed accurately and for a treatment plan to be put in place.