Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects around 2% of the world’s population. You can always contact us at Ludlow Pediatrics, Ludlow, MA, Robert J. Willis, MD, FAAP for more information on ADHD. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is when a person experiences difficulties with maintaining attention or controlling physical energy and movement. There are three different forms of ADHD: Predominantly Inattentive ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD, and Combined ADHD.
Inattentive ADHD is diagnosed when a person shows difficulty focusing on tasks and activities, and appears to not be listening. It can include difficulty managing time, avoiding tasks that require prolonged focus and thought, and/or difficulty following instructions.
Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is diagnosed when a person seems unable to remain still. This can include a desire for inappropriate running or climbing, persistent fidgeting, tapping hands and feet, excessive talking, difficulty playing or engaging in activities without creating excessive noise and attention, and defiance in waiting for their turn.
Combined ADHD shows characteristics from both Inattentive and Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD disorders.
ADHD is mostly diagnosed prior to age 12. However, diagnosis can be reached in adolescence or early adulthood. Some cases of ADHD can be misinterpreted. Women are more likely to experience inattentive ADHD, while males often have hyperactive or disruptive symptoms. More men are diagnosed with ADHD overall.
ADHD has been linked to anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and sleep disorders. Symptoms can appear as early as 3 years of age.
ADHD is diagnosed by a pediatrician, psychologist, or a psychiatrist. In order to reach a diagnosis, medical professionals must confirm that the severity of the disorder is directly affecting the person’s social and emotional functions, and determine that the symptoms are long-lasting and affect their mental development.
There is no cure for ADHD, But there are several treatments that can reduce the symptoms. Treatments include psychotherapy, education, medication, and a combination of several treatments. It’s important for all clinicians involved in the person’s medical care to be aware of the diagnosis and treatment.
Stimulant medication can be initially prescribed at a low dose. Medical professionals will determine if the medicine and the dosage is appropriate. If not, changes to the medication’s frequency and dosage can be made.
Behavioral therapy involves working with a therapist to improve social skills. For younger children, parents will be trained in the treatment plan and shown ways to respond to difficult ADHD symptoms. School administrators and support staff should also be involved.
Children who are diagnosed with ADHD don’t wean off the symptoms over time. Constant treatment and support are necessary throughout the person’s life in order to comfort and conform to a healthier development. ADHD is mostly diagnosed prior to the age of 12. Research has identified that causes of ADHD can be attributed to genetic and environmental factors. Environmental factors may include cigarette smoking, alcohol use, drug use during pregnancy, exposure to environmental toxins, low birth weight, premature birth, and/or traumatic brain injuries.
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