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Children’s Health: ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that makes it hard for children to control their behavior. It is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children.


What are the symptoms of ADHD?


A child with ADHD may have one or more of the following symptoms:


• Inattention – has a short attention span, is easily distracted, is disorganized, loses things


• Hyperactivity – seems to be in constant motion, has difficulty staying seated, squirms, talks continually


• Impulsivity – unable to wait, interrupts others


If your child has ADHD, these symptoms will:


• Occur in more than one setting, such as home, school and social settings


• Be more severe than in other children the same age


• Start before your child reaches 7 years of age


• Continue for more than 6 months


• Make it difficult for your child to function at school, home, and/or social settings


Does my child have ADHD?


Your child’s pediatrician can assess whether your child has ADHD using standard guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but keep the following in mind:


• The guidelines are for children ages 6-12. It is more difficult to diagnose children younger or older than this.


• The diagnosis process has several steps and requires information about your child’s behavior from you, your child’s school and/or other caregivers.


• Your child’s pediatrician will also check for other conditions with the same types of symptoms as ADHD. Some children have ADHD and another co-existing condition like depression, anxiety or a learning disability.


• There is no proven test for ADHD.


Is treatment available?


There is no cure for ADHD, but treatment is available. ADHD requires ongoing treatment and management. Most treatment plans include:


• Long-term management plan. Includes behavior goals, follow-up activities and monitoring.


• Medication. Stimulant medications are a safe and effective way to relieve symptoms for most children.


• Behavior therapy. Focuses on changing child’s environment to help improve behavior.


• Education and training. Provides crucial information and teaches skills for parents and others to deal with the child’s behavior.


Most school-aged children respond well to treatment programs that include both medication and behavior therapy. Treatment is most effective when doctors, parents, teachers, caregivers and other health professionals work together. It may take time to find the right combinations of treatments to meet your child’s individual needs, but staying positive and supportive is essential.

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