Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects in most cultures approximately 5% of children and 2.5 % of adults. I often have parents or teachers talk to me about concerns they have regarding their child's/students’ ability to maintain attention and concentration, and most worry that their child/student suffers from ADHD. They will often discuss with me that they are unclear about the process involved in an assessment for ADHD and what the treatment options are if the child is diagnosed with this condition. This four-part series will provide an understanding of ADHD and its subtypes as well as provide an insight into diagnosis and treatment available for attention difficulties.
Children with ADHD often has poor inhibition, that is, they have difficulty in controlling inappropriate behaviour, thoughts and speech. They may exhibit, firstly, inattentive symptoms—characterised by wandering off tasks, lacking persistence, having difficulty sustaining focus and being disorganised. Secondly, they may exhibit hyperactivity symptoms, characterised by excessive fidgeting or tapping and talkativeness. Thirdly, they may exhibit impulsivity symptoms, characterised by interrupting or intruding on others as an impulse.
It may be that your child has some or a combination of all these symptom types. A child that is hyperactive or impulsive is unlikely to learn effectively without introducing intervention strategies; otherwise they will disrupts others’ learning process as well.
It is important to understand that for a group of symptoms to be suggestive of ADHD they must commence within childhood prior to the age of 12 years old and for a period of six months or more, rather than, say, two weeks. It is also necessary that the displays of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity have occurred in more than one setting; these displays would usually be at home and the school environment. It is likely that if your child/student only demonstrates these symptoms in one setting, this may allude to other psychological concerns such as learning or relationship difficulties.
ADHD in children is associated with reduced school performance and academic achievement. This can also negatively affect peer relationships. In adults consequences of ADHD are often associated with poor job performance and achievement.
Therefore, if your child/student has some of these difficulties, an ADHD assessment completed by a psychologist must be administered as early as possible. An ADHD test can assist you in understanding your child’s learning/behavioural needs. A reliable ADHD test can also provide recommendations and accommodations to assist them to learn in a more effective manner.