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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), previously known as ADD, is a disorder characterised by difficulty maintaining attention (commonly referred to as inattention), excessive hyperactivity or a combination of both groups of symptoms. A diagnosis will normally indicate if you or your child has inattentive presentation, hyperactive/impulsive presentation or a combination of the two. In both children and adults inattention often manifests as daydreaming, careless mistakes in schoolwork, difficulty organising tasks, losing things necessary for tasks and being forgetful or distractible. Hyperactivity is normally observed as impulsivity, fidgeting, running and climbing, excessive chatter, difficulty in turn taking and waiting for their turn and interrupting conversations and games. It is important to remember that one may show symptoms across hyperactivity and inattention or in only one of them and does not have to show all symptoms listed to be diagnosed as having ADHD and that the symptoms may present differently across different age groups and so may not look exactly the same as expected.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children normally appears before age 7 although the symptoms are often only recognised once a child is in school and expected to maintain attention and sit still for longer periods of time than before. Despite this research has shown that children as young as 4 can be diagnosed if symptoms are noticed. Between 4 and 5 most children tend to be active and impulsive, thus recognising the symptoms can be more difficult, however children with ADHD at this age, especially hyperactive presentation, can have a hard time sitting still for even a few minutes and find waiting their turn difficult and will thus yell out answers and push in lines when other children would not. It is not their hyper or impulsive behaviour which sets them apart from their peers, but the degree and frequency with which they engage in such behaviours. At age 6 to 7 schooling normally becomes more formal and children with ADHD show more signs of having difficulty keeping up with the expectations of their children in their class. At this point the inattentive type symptoms may become more pronounced. It is important to compare children across the same age group as opposed to grade level to determine if there is excessive hyperactivity or inattentiveness, as there can be over a year difference between children in the same grade and so differences observed may be due to maturity as opposed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). At this age already, it is important to know is that children do not outgrow Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and these symptoms continue into adulthood, although they may present differently. This means that one should not wait for symptoms to disappear on their own or hope that your child will outgrow them but should rather intervene as soon as possible as early intervention can help your child learn to self-manage sooner and allows for best learning opportunities throughout school.
Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
To be formally diagnosed the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) must be present across more than one setting (school, home, work) however behaviour problems in school are frequently the reason a parent may seek help. Those children who exhibit hyperactivity and impulsiveness especially can be disruptive in a class room setting with behaviours such as standing up frequently, blurting out answers and frequent talking leading to compromised school performance as well as compromising the working environment for other children in their class. Furthermore, many children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are also diagnosed with emotional regulatory problems which can include but are not limited to anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty controlling anger, OCD and even depression. With treatment and increased structure at both school and home, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and associated emotional and behavioural problems can be managed and interventions put in place which can reduce symptoms as well as help your child overcome them.
Learning Difficulties and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Learning difficulties could also be an indicator of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) due to difficulty sustaining attention to instructions or work, difficulty completing tasks or difficulty sitting for extended periods of time. This does not necessarily mean that your child is not capable or smart enough to do the work, however it may need to be presented in a different way and your child may need extra support and treatment to help them learn to manage their behaviour and recognise their own needs as well. Other learning difficulties such as dyslexia and auditory processing disorder are also often diagnosed along with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which can explain why a simple intervention such as medication is not showing the expected improvement in academic performance. A child who is only diagnosed or who only receives intervention when they are older may also need extra attention given to fill in gaps in academic, behavioural and even social skills. It is for this reason that it is recommended that intervention be implemented as early as possible, and that in the event of later intervention, or indeed any intervention, treatment is given across an array of domains including academic, social and behavioural.
When you start to see the behavioural and learning difficulties associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) it is important to remember that ADHD is not the only possible cause. Children who experience anxiety or trauma or have other learning disabilities may show the same symptoms as a result of their experiences. A diagnosis can only be made if the child has been showing symptoms for more than 6 months and is negatively affecting social or academic activities. Furthermore, they must be present across at least 2 settings, and finally the symptoms cannot only occur during an episode of psychosis or another mental disorder such as a mood or personality disorder. A diagnosis of ADHD is not necessary to seek treatment, and if you are seeing symptoms it may be in your child’s best interests to do so, however a diagnosis may help you and your child come to terms with their difficulties and allow you to better support them. Whether they symptoms are ADHD or a different underlying issue, it is very important to still treat the symptoms of ADHD and fill any gaps in academics and other domains which may exist.
Treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Choosing a school for a child who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be a tough decision. There are many schools who offer support especially for ADHD, however these are not necessarily mainstream schools, and mainstream is always our first choice to guarantee our child is at the recommended age level of academics as well as offer the best possible social and emotional growth experiences. Most children with ADHD can function well in a mainstream school when their Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is treated across settings and for this reason, it is best to find a school that is willing to support your child’s needs, possibly with smaller classes and an approach to teaching which does not only focus on sitting at a desk, but engages your child, while still getting your child the best support you can externally to help them fill their gaps as well as learn to manage their own ADHD. At Catch Up Kids our supervisors do their best to work with your child’s teachers to find out their concerns as well as ensure that your child’s programme is consistent with their school goals. This means that we have experience with a variety of syllabi and schools, and that you do not need to choose your school based on your child’s diagnosis but can rely on Catch Up Kids to help your child at any school.
The thing most parents want is help for their Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) child, and with so many options and so many different views being given it can be very difficult to know what to do and what not. At Catch Up Kids we have experience with many kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and realise that every child needs support which is tailored to them and we also understand that you want an approach which is proven to help in other cases of ADHD. We use a behavioural approach to therapy, which targets multiple domains of learning and development, which addresses a variety of symptoms and concerns as well as equips you as a parent, as well as your child, to optimally manage their ADHD. We work with children of any age, although we suggest early intervention for best results. We will set up a program specifically to address your child’s needs based on our own observations as well as your input, reports and school feedback. We also believe in an approach which is enacted across settings, and so will make recommendations on changes you can make in your home setting to help your child as well as within the class setting which can assist them. Our programmes are set up to work on the symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity, impulsivity or inattentiveness, as well as focus on filling in any academic gaps which may exist and ultimately ensuring that your child is meeting their own performance capability. We also have experience with many of the conditions such as anxiety, behavioural problems and other learning difficulties which often occur along with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We will equip your child with strategies with which to manage these difficulties and adapt and change their Catch Up programme to find a learning method which suits them and teach them to use these methods and strategies in their everyday academic and social lives as well. Some of the specific domains we work on are some which people do not always realise may occur alongside ADHD but which are very important, as we do not want your child to miss anything due to their ADHD. These areas include Fine Motor Skills, different memory types such as auditory, visual and working memory, emotional coping, self-regulation as well as those most associated with ADHD such as inhibition and sustained attention. When your child comes to us, we will assess all of these skills as well as many more, including their academic skills and build a program which will help your child on the way to catching up, managing their symptoms and reaching their full potential.