Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people's behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.
Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child's circumstances change, such as when they start school.
Most children are diagnosed when they are between 6 and 12 years old.
The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who were diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience difficulties.
People with ADHD may also have additional difficulties, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.
The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well defined, and they're usually noticeable before the age of 6. They occur in more than 1 situation, such as at home and at school.
- having a short attention span and being easily distracted
- making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
- appearing forgetful or losing things
- being unable to stick to 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
Hyperactivity and impulsiveness
- being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
- constantly fidgeting
- being unable to concentrate on tasks
- excessive physical movement
- excessive talking
- being unable to wait their turn
- acting without thinking
- interrupting conversations
- little or no sense of danger
These symptoms can cause significant challenges in a child's life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.
What causes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families.
Research has also identified several possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD when compared with those without the condition.
Other factors suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:
- being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
- having a low birthweight
- smoking or alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy
- ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it's more common in people with learning difficulties
Living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Looking after a child with ADHD can be challenging, but it's important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour and seek support to help your child in the best way.
Some issues that may arise in day-to-day life include:
- getting your child to sleep at night
- getting ready for school on time
- listening to and carrying out instructions
- being organised
- social occasions
Many children go through phases where they're restless or inattentive. This is often completely normal and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD.
But you should consider raising your concerns with your child's teacher, their school's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or a GP if you think their behaviour may be different from most children their age.