Does my child have ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder, which can have a severe impact on the behaviour of children and youngsters regarding their school performance and socialising with peers. The worldwide prevalence for children with ADHD is 5%. (Faraone, Sergeant, Gilberg & Biederman, 2003).

Symptoms of ADHD:

Inattentiveness:
Struggle to hold the attention during calm activities, tend to daydream, forgetful, disorganised

Hyperactivity:
Excessive activity, restlessness, fidgeting

Impulsiveness:
Impatience, thoughtless behaviour, impaired impulse control

Children can also suffer under the symptoms of inattentiveness only (ADD), which makes the diagnosis less obvious.

How to diagnose AD(H)D?

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) are the mainly used criteria to diagnose ADHD.

It is essential to distinguish between usual symptoms of inattention, hyperactive and impulsive behaviour, which occur for example during specific developmental stages like childhood or puberty and those symptoms, which cause mal-adaptively high levels in the daily lives of children and adolescents whether at home, at school, at work or in social settings.

The symptoms must have begun before the age of 7 and must occur in at least two different settings like at home and at school. Children and adolescents with an AD(H)D diagnose suffer in socialising with their peers, learning difficulties or vocational training.

The therapist will usually collect valuable data from the children/adolescents, parents and teacher to have a holistic view of the issues described using, for example, the Child Behaviour Checklist questionnaire, interview and observations during the sessions.

A thorough physical examination by a doctor should be done to exclude for example epilepsy, metabolism disorder, sight and hearing impairment which can cause similar symptoms of ADHD.

There are also other psychological or developmental disorders which can cause inattentiveness or hyperactive behaviours like obsessive-compulsive-disorder, autism, tics, low or high intelligence or dyslexia.

Many different aspects should be considered before diagnosing AD(H)D, and it usually takes up to 6 sessions including questionnaires and other psychometric tests and profiles like IQ test followed by specialised assessments in reading, writing, spelling, math and language.

ADHD and Comorbidity

It is estimated, that around 60 to 80 % of the children/adolescents with ADHD also have another disorder like Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Conduct Disorder, Excretion Disorder and Specific Learning Disabilities.

https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/adhd-comorbidity/

The Stress on Parents 

The authors of the book ‘Understanding A.D.H.D’ Dr C. Green and Dr K. Chee put it together this way:

‘There must be super-men and wonder-women out there who find ADHD easy, but so far we have not met them. The parents we deal with are tired, confused and frequently full of self-doubts. Many have already had a real run-around… Many are secretly disappointed that parenting has not lived up to expectations. Others are angry that one child has brought so much stress and disruption to what was once a hassle-free home. A few have an immense feeling of being trapped in a nightmare that just won`t end. At the end of a family weekend the parents feel as if they have gone 10 rounds in the boxing ring. “

Therapy

There are evidence-based therapeutical methods to help children and adolescents with ADHD and other mental disorders. Depends on the severity of the symptoms, the therapist will either recommend a so-called combination therapy of medication and psychotherapy (CBT) or only medication or psychotherapy.
Untreated ADHD can cause severe problems throughout life.
Children can suffer under low-self esteem since they are not able to show their full potential, struggle with having or keeping friends, low school performance, trouble at home/stressed parents.
Youngsters tend to do abuse drugs to ease their restlessness (self-medication) and often suffer under depressions.

It is crucial to validate the emotions and the struggle of the parents. Very often they suffer as much as their children and feel very often helpless. Therapy can help the whole family to understand the disorder and its consequences. Parents and children mustn´t blame themselves for their struggle.

Therapy can help children and parents to focus on their strengths and develop adaptive strategies to overcome the challenges and strengthen overall the relationships with family members and peers.

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Published on 2019/01/01

Posted in: ADHD, Children and Adolescents, Mental Health,