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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

The most common neurodevelopmental disorder found in childhood.

Neurodevelopmental disorders are brain disorders that start in the early years and childhood.

What is ADHD?

First off, it's completely normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, a child with ADHD may have more difficulty paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours (may act without thinking about what the result will be or be overly active). Compared to children who do not have ADHD, children with ADHD don’t outgrow these behaviors. The symptoms continue and can become more severe over time. This can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.

A child with ADHD might:

  • daydream a lot

  • forgetful or loses things a lot

  • squirm (wiggle or twist the body) or fidget

  • talk too much

  • make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks

  • have a hard time resisting the temptation to do some things

  • have trouble taking turns/cooperate with other children during play

  • have difficulty getting along with others

Types of ADHD

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) ADHD is characterised by:

A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, as characterized by :

  1. Inattention

  2. Hyperactivity and impulsivity

Based on this ADHD is distinguished into 3 types depending on which symptoms present most:

  1. Predominantly (Mostly) Inattentive: Difficulty in organising or finishing tasks, paying attention to details, or following instructions or conversations. S/he can seem easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.

  2. Predominantly (Mostly) Hyperactive-Impulsive: S/he may fidget and talk a lot. It can be hard for them to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump, or climb constantly. S/he might have a tendency to interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It may be hard for s/he to wait their turn or listen to directions. S/he with issues with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others(e.g: falls down more, have marks or injuries from falls)

  3. Combined Presentation: Symptoms of both above are equally present in the same child.

Because symptoms can change over time, what is listed above may change over time as well.

ADHD can range from mild, moderate to severe depending on level of impairment and daily functioning.

ADHD can sometimes present with other difficulties or developmental delays such as language disorders, (for example, Developmental Language Disorder), issues with coordination and balance (can contribute to the falls) amongst others.

How can you help your child with ADHD during COVID 19?

During these difficult times when most of us have to stay home, it can be especially challenging for parents of children with ADHD especially with the lack of resources to help. However, there are still things you can do to help your child.

(I will post more about other techniques in my next post).

Having a healthy lifestyle can make it easier for your child to deal with ADHD symptoms. Here are some healthy behaviors that may help:

  • Providing them with healthy food such as plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (pasta, bread and brown rice) and choosing lean protein sources (chicken and fish are better than processed foods such as sausages or ham).

  • ·Do physical activity such as going for walks or swimming every day (it will help you as well)

  • ·Limit how much time they spend on TVs, computers, phones, and other electronics

  • Getting the essential amount of sleep each night based on age. (Check the table below)

Remember a child with ADHD is NOT naughty. S/he has some challenges, but they are still children and deserve to be loved and cared for as such.

Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day per age group

Newborn: 03 months = 1417 hours (National Sleep Foundation)

Infant: 412 months = 1216 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

Toddler: 12 years = 1114 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

Preschool: 35 years = 1013 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

School Age: 612 years = 912 hours per 24 hours

Teen: 1318 years = 810 hours per 24 hours

Adult: 1860 years = 7 or more hours per night
       6164 years = 79 hours per night
       65 years and older = 78 hours per night
Source: CDC

Author: Sarentha Luther, MSc, BSc, MBPSs

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