With October being National ADHD Awareness Month, I felt it only necessary to review the statistics on ADHD as well as the signs and symptoms of the diagnosis. Based on a National Health Interview Survey conducted in 2011, 8.4% of children in the United States between the ages of 3 and 17 have a formal ADHD diagnosis which adds up to about 5.2 million American children. Since ADHD is more prominent in males than females, statistics show that 11.2% of males age 3 to 17 have an ADHD diagnosis while 5.5% of females in the US have this diagnosis.
ADHD is a condition that affects the brain and an individual’s ability to focus. It is a condition that affects a person all throughout their lifetime and in various settings. There are 3 main characteristics that a child with ADHD may exhibit: inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity.
A child who exhibits inattention may have difficulty concentrating or may experience interfering thoughts when attempting to focus. This individual may have difficulty with organization and completing tasks in a timely manner, unless they are preferred activities. He/she may appear to not be listening to others, may have difficulty learning new things, and have poor self-regulation (monitor and modifying their behavior, as needed).
A child who has the characteristics of impulsivity may have difficulty thinking before engaging in a specific behavior and may have difficulty waiting his/her turn. This child may also appear to engage in erratic behavior that may not be appropriate to the situation. For example, he/she may knock over a peers block structure without feeling empathy for their peer.
Finally, some children with ADHD also engage in hyperactive behavior. These children may bounce around from one activity to another, may have difficulty sitting still, and may fidget during difficult tasks. In addition, these children may try to complete more than one task at a time without ever fully completing one of them.
Since ADHD is a complex condition, it requires a comprehensive evaluation to determine if an individual displays the characteristics necessary to carry the formal diagnosis. The diagnostic process should involve a full physical exam, medical history of the child, observations of the child, as well as feedback and questionnaires completed by the child’s caregivers, teachers, and therapists.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, research shows that a combination of behavioral interventions as well as medication management is the most effective treatment. For more information on ADHD, please visit: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml