Common ailments

ADHD

My son’s school teacher recently indicated that she has some concerns about my 8 year old son’s behaviour. She said he can be very disruptive at school and appears to find it difficult to focus on any given task or to sit still for even short periods of time. Previous teachers have also mentioned this sort of behaviour and I often deal with very difficult and erratic behaviour from him at home. I’m concerned that perhaps my little boy has ADHD.

ADHD (or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the UK’s most common behavioural disorder affecting 2-5% of school children and young people. The symptoms of ADHD include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. There are three main types of ADHD but the most common type, Combined ADHD, includes all of the above symptoms.

Usually, children with ADHD show signs of the above symptoms in specific ways, such as not appearing to listen, being easily distracted, being in constant motion, having difficulty playing quietly and often talking excessively. However, it is important to bear in mind that some behaviour which may appear to be ADHD-related is often not.

If you are genuinely concerned that your little boy may have ADHD, your family GP may be able to refer him to a specialist team for assessment. This will usually involve asking questions about your son’s medical history, what symptoms he is showing and how long the symptoms have been going on, as well as carrying out a clinical examination. Strict criteria need to be met before a diagnosis of ADHD can be made.

If your son is diagnosed with ADHD, treatment involving a combination of medication and therapy will alleviate the symptoms and make the condition much less of a problem in day to day life. It is a difficult situation to cope with but it is important to remember that a child with ADHD cannot help their behaviour. Clear boundaries and set routines can however make a big difference to how a child with ADHD copes with every day life. You may also find it useful to use an incentive scheme using a points or star chart as a means of praising good behaviour and to help you keep a positive frame of mind.

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