Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurodevelopment disorder diagnosed in children. It is a mental health issue that can impact the child’s development and function. If not treated it can have lasting effects well into adulthood. There are some signs that are significant in its diagnosis.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a medical condition that affects certain areas of the brain that are responsible for focus, planning, and carrying out tasks. There are three sub-types that are usually diagnosed. This neurological disorder includes other problems such as overactivity and impulsive behavior. In adults, this can lead to poor work performance, low self-esteem, and relationships that are unstable.
It is important to understand what ADHD is and what it is not. That is why it must be diagnosed by doctors through an assessment. After the assessment, a child exhibiting at least six out of nine symptoms is most commonly considered to have ADHD. These symptoms must be present before the age of 12 for a diagnosis to occur.
Causes of ADHD
There are no specific causes of ADHD. It is believed that it is genetically passed down to children. It is also theorized that exposure to certain toxins during pregnancy can contribute to it. Exposure to lead as a child can be a risk factor. Development in the central nervous system is also suspected to play a role. Another suspected cause of ADHD is a brain injury.
ADHD Is not considered a mental illness or behavioral problem. Rather, it is an impairment of the brain’s self-management system. Contrary to popular belief it is not caused by video games, excessive sugar, or bad parenting.
Other disorders can present themselves along with ADHD. This can make treatment a bit more difficult. The treatments for these other conditions can cause increased struggles and frustrations for the person suffering from ADHD.
Children with learning disabilities often struggle to understand and communicate properly. These struggles will cause a child with ADHD to have a lower academic score in relation to his or her age.
Anxiety comes with the struggle of nervousness and stress. This can intensify the hyperactivity aspect of ADHD.
While not often found in children, bipolar and other mood disorders can worsen depression in an ADHD sufferer.
Three types of ADHD
It is important to remember that any of the symptoms for any of the types of ADHD must be exhibited in multiple settings. This means the child doesn’t exhibit these symptoms only at home. The type that your child may be diagnosed with is based on the strongest symptoms that are presented during an assessment.
Within this type of ADHD, the child will exhibit struggles to stay on task, focusing, and organizing. These problems are not caused by the child’s disobedience or lack of understanding. These problems are due to the inability of his or her brain to remain focused on the task at hand. Here are some other signs of inattentive ADHD:
- Does not pay attention to details
- Makes careless mistakes
- Has difficulty remaining focused during play
- Does not appear to be listening when addressed
- Has difficulty following through on instructions, such as schoolwork and chores
- Unable to organize tasks
- Struggles to keep belongings in order
- Does not like to engage in activities that require continuous thought processes
- Often loses belongings
- Easily distracted
- Often forgets the routine of daily activities
The child exhibiting this type of ADHD usually struggles with fidgeting and impulsive actions. A child with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD seems restless and may even appear rude because of inappropriate interruptions.
This type of child has a hard time waiting for his or her turn and following directions. The child could also be considered accident-prone due to his or her impulsive and risky behaviors. More symptoms include the following:
- Unable to remain seated during class time
- Runs and climbs at inappropriate times
- Cannot play quietly
- Always seems to be on the go
- Talks excessively
- Blurts answers to questions ahead of time
- Takes or uses other people’s things without asking for permission
- Intrudes into games or activities
This type of ADHD is normally diagnosed when there are multiple symptoms of the previous two types. For this type, there is no set list of symptoms since they can fall from either of the other two categories. Symptoms can change over time, which will cause the presentation of the type to change as well. Identifying what is ADHD versus other disorders will help identify true symptoms.
What is the impact of ADHD?
ADHD is most commonly noticed at school before it is at home. This is why the heaviest impact of ADHD is on the child’s education. The child may also develop poor self-esteem due to having trouble interacting with others. Substance abuse can also become a long-term issue if the child is not treated at a younger age.
ADHD can affect the quality of life of children because of his or her risk-taking behavior. Left untreated, it can also become problematic for the adult seeking employment. A child with ADHD may also appear to have the inability to have healthy relationships within his or her family. This issue can contribute to the child’s self-esteem.
What are the typical treatments?
Most children diagnosed with ADHD are treated with medication as well as a treatment plan. Along with these, there are also ways the parents can help the child manage and cope with ADHD. Before the use of medications, it is important to understand what ADHD is in order for the child to receive the proper medication.
There are two types of medications used for the treatment of ADHD. Stimulants such as Ritalin and Concerta are normal treatment options. These medications are designed to produce the neurotransmitters that are deficient in a child with ADHD.
There are three types of stimulant medications that can be used. The short-acting type is taken a few times a day. The intermediate-acting would be taken less often, and the long-acting medications are taken once a day.
Non-stimulant medications can be chosen if stimulants cause problematic side effects or do not work effectively. These medications are Strattera or Intuniv and are considered a second choice because of their reduced effectiveness. These medications sometimes take longer to reach their effectiveness.
How can parents help at home?
There are multiple ways parents can help their children who suffer from ADHD. Beyond medical treatment, parents can create a healthy lifestyle that will affect ADHD in their children. Developing healthy eating habits is one of the leading ways to help a child maintain important nutrients needed in his or her body.
Along with a healthy menu, physical activity will also affect the hyperactive behavior of the child. Having daily routines and limited screen time can also contribute to ADHD management for the child.
Helping children succeed as they manage ADHD can be done through communication in a positive way. Positive redirection when they lose their focus can help them stay on task and allow them to become more familiar with rules and routines. Short and clear instructions may increase work understanding as well as what is considered appropriate behavior.
Biblical help for parents
While ADHD is not directly addressed in the Bible, there are scriptures that can help lead and guide your child in his or her struggles. Scriptures about peace and comfort can instill a sense of calmness within your child and yourself.
Taking breaks and having short prayer times can also reduce anxiety and stress. A short time of scripture reading can reduce frustration when you feel your child is losing focus. Here are two scriptures that can be helpful in stressful moments. You can meditate on them and turn them into prayers.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-9, ESV
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. – Psalm 119:76-77, ESV
If you find that your child is experiencing signs of ADHD, reach out to a Christian counselor near you. He or she will be able to help you and your child manage the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects.
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