With the recent upsurge in awareness and education about mental illnesses, especially amongst parents and teachers, it is increasingly common to hear the word ADHD being used in daily parlance. However, despite such an awareness, it is important to ensure that the term is used accurately, and not to misdiagnose or to overlook any such symptoms.
Some of the signs being displayed by a child with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) would include pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity, which is likely to be significantly interfering with the child’s academic, social as well as daily life functioning.
While inattentiveness and hyperactivity are commonly observed in many children, a diagnosis of ADHD would require a persistent display of such a pattern of behaviour for at least a period of six months; and such a behaviour would be developmentally inappropriate, typically being observed during school years before the age of 12 years.
Most importantly, such behaviour would be displayed not just in school but also at home, or in other settings as well, and may not be restricted to academics alone, as is commonly reported by a lot of parents.
Dr Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare shares the signs of ADHD, and also suggests what should be done if such behavioural changes is spotted in children.
Signs and symptoms of ADHD:
It is essential to note that, first and foremost, ADHD is an identifiable neurobiological condition that affects children globally, and is not a label for ‘bad behaviour’ or ‘laziness’. But it requires timely intervention, or it can lead to more severe behavioural, emotional and academic difficulties.
Until recently it was believed that ADHD did not continue into adolescence, based on the assumption that hyperactivity often diminishes during the teen years. However, we now know that children do not always ‘outgrow’ symptoms of ADHD, because such symptoms can actually persist into adulthood as well.
In fact, ADHD is by far one of the most common yet grossly misunderstood neurological disorders that are found in children. Therefore, let us look at some of the common signs and symptoms to help us identify ADHD accurately.
Inattentive behaviour in children can typically be manifested in the form of the following:
*Tends to get distracted easily.
*Tends to be careless.
*Inability to work at a single task for a sustained time period.
*Frequently leaves tasks unfinished.
*Often does not follow instructions, or instructions seem to go unheard.
*Difficulty in organising tasks or planning activities.
Hyperactivity and impulsivity, the other central aspect of ADHD in children could include the following manifestations in their behaviour:
*Described by parents or teachers as being constantly ‘on the go’, as though being run by a motor untiringly.
*Excessive fidgeting/squirming and restless.
*Frequently leaving the seat.
*Talking nonstop or frequently interrupting.
*Unable to do anything quietly.
*Unable to wait in queues or for turns.
What is important to remember is that a child with ADHD could present with either inattentive behaviour, or with hyperactivity-impulsivity, or even a combination of both.
If you notice the symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity in a child, it is essential to seek a formal psycho-diagnostic assessment by a mental health professional in order to ensure an accurate diagnosis, and not an over-labelling or neglecting of the symptoms. Thereafter, adequate interventions by the combined effort of a team of mental health experts including psychiatrist, psychologists, remediation specialists, occupational therapists, art therapist is advised.
In order to effectively rehabilitate the child, its important to make his or her re-integration into society and in his or her everyday life and routines as smooth as possible. Along with behavior therapy, social-skills training are important to enable the child to form sustainable peer relationships and to enhance the acceptability and self- esteem of the child. Some of the common techniques which can be used to refocus the child’s attentiveness could include activities like threading or sorting beads, and colouring within specific shapes should be regularly practiced.
Similarly, to help work on impulsivity, we could create opportunities in the classroom where self-control is consistently rewarded. Tasks should be broken down into smaller units, and instructions given in a step-wise manner will help the child grasp as well as follow through on them more effectively.
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