Childhood ADHD

Behavioral therapy has shown promising results in the treatment of ADHD (Photo: pixabay)
Most children are born with a natural instinct to run around free until their daily battery runs out. Perhaps it is not the most ideal situation for them to sit on a school chair for what seems like an eternity in their mind. However, just like everything else, they adapt. Some children, however, find it much more difficult to adapt and show a higher tendency, or an inability, to stay seated and focused for even a short period of time. This could be the case of a child with ADHD. اضافة اعلان

What is ADHD?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by an “ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”. ADHD is considered a common type of neurodevelopmental disorder that is usually diagnosed in childhood and is most likely to last into adulthood.

The specific causes of ADHD are not yet entirely known, but studies have shown that it can be a combination of neurodevelopmental components, an underlying genetic component, along with environmental risk factors that may increase the likelihood of ADHD symptoms. Some of these environmental factors can include diet/food additives, mothers smoking during pregnancy, lead contamination, and cigarette and alcohol exposure.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD

While it is normal for anyone to experience difficulty paying attention, to be impulsive, and to experience unfocused motor activity, people who have ADHD experience these symptoms more severely and often to the point where it interferes negatively with their daily functioning.

The main signs and symptoms of ADHD in children fall under two main bands: inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.

Inattention in children with ADHD will usually show them like they are in their own world, and are very easily distracted by almost anything around them. It may also seem like they are not listening even when they are being spoken to directly, and many of them have difficulty maintaining eye contact.

If they are in a classroom, they are most likely to be the students with colours, pencils, eraser bits, and other implements covering their floor and desk area, as they usually have difficulty staying organized and keeping track of their belongings. If you look at their work, you are likely to find careless mistakes, or even an unfinished task. You might even find yourself having to repeat instructions followed by a seemingly endless effort trying to convince them to even start the task required. That is because children with ADHD will do the impossible to avoid any task that requires mental effort because that mess that they have created around them is a pretty accurate depiction of the mess of endless thoughts entering their brains.

The hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms will make children constantly fidgeting in their place and leaving their seat as they please. They usually are not capable of performing any tasks or activities quietly, so do not be shocked by random airplane noises.

Children with ADHD tend to interrupt and speak out of their turn because they cannot handle having to wait to share the very important thoughts that they might forget if they wait for even a second longer, and they might even answer your question before you finish asking it. More importantly, you will notice that children with ADHD, are constantly in motion, running and climbing wherever they go, as they often feel restless.

Diagnosis and prevalence

Dealing with any of these symptoms can be difficult for a parent, teacher, or caregiver, and can be highly uncomfortable for the child himself/herself; in order for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD he/she needs to exhibit at least six symptoms of inattention and/or at least six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity in more than one setting, and for at least a period of six months.

By January 2022, the worldwide prevalence of ADHD in children and adolescents was standing at 2.2 percent, according to the ADHD Institute.

While there is limited research on ADHD in Jordan, a 2011 study done at the University of Jordan showed a 6.24 percent prevalence in a 4,374-student sample, with a higher prevalence amongst school boys. These statistics show that ADHD is in fact a common disorder, especially amongst children.

Treating ADHD

Unfortunately ADHD remains not only misunderstood, but has gone on for far too long without being diagnosed. It is important to diagnose ADHD in order to be able to provide as much support as possible to a child struggling with this disorder. Because, if one chaotic day can throw anyone off mentally and emotionally, one can only imagine the extent of emotional distress that a child with ADHD must feel, especially in an environment where he/she does not feel supported or understood.

It is important for parents, schools, and governments to take preventive measures so as to avoid the point where things become very complicated and difficult, and damages become severe. The chances of success are much higher when treatment begins at a younger age, when children are at their most malleable and more likely to respond to treatment.

Treatment for ADHD can be either through behavioural therapy with a clinical psychologist, and/or through medication prescribed by a licensed psychiatrist. While ADHD medication remains a controversial topic, with many parents having reserves about giving their child ADHD medication out of fear of its side effects, most studies have shown that a combination of the right dose of medication along with behavioural therapy have provided the best outcomes. Even without medication, behavioural therapy has shown impressive results due to its focus on improving a child’s behavior, self-control, and self-esteem.

However, therapy and medication are not the only factors to consider when dealing with ADHD. Before anything, it is important to have the knowledge about this misunderstood disorder as parents, teachers and principals, and as a community at large.

Providing training, workshops, and setting up strategies to follow at school and at home are some of the best measures to take. It is most important to understand that these are children who behave in ways that are beyond their control before considering any treatment. Making them feel safe and understood is already half the battle won.

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