If a child has difficulty focusing on activities or is overly energetic and impulsive, they may have ADHD. Even though there is no known cure for ADHD, early diagnosis and treatment can give a child the skills they need to grow up to be a successful adult.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a type of anxiety disorder known as a neurodevelopmental disorder. People with ADHD have a distinct perspective of the world and approach daily activities with a different mindset.
The term attention-deficit disorder (ADD) is often used instead of ADHD by the general public and healthcare professionals alike. It is important to note that both names refer to the same condition and can be used interchangeably. Nonetheless, the correct medical name given to the condition by the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-V is ADHD.
Children with ADHD are at a higher risk of developing other health conditions such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or a mood disorder. A combination of behavioral therapy, medication, and love and support can help a child with ADHD develop into a healthy adult.
The current scientific consensus on ADHD states that the condition can be categorized into one of three main types:
- Predominantly inattentive presentation
- Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation
- Combined presentation
ADHD - Predominantly inattentive presentation
Inattentive type ADHD causes people to have difficulty paying attention and staying organized. Not only are they easily distracted, but they also have a harder time remembering things. Predominantly inattentive type ADHD is more commonly seen in girls than in boys.
Inattentive symptoms of ADHD include:
- Being easily distracted
- Poor organization skills
- Losing things often
- Being forgetful in daily activities
- Poor capacity to follow instructions
- It may seem like the child doesn’t listen when spoken to
- Avoiding tasks that require a mental effort
- Trouble paying attention to details, leading to consistent mishappens
ADHD - Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation
This type of ADHD is characterized by the propensity for energetic and impulsive behavior. It is seen more often in boys than in girls. Children with predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD struggle with self-control and may react abruptly to external stimuli.
Some of the symptoms of hyperactivity in ADHD are:
- Fidgeting with hands or feet
- Difficulty focusing and staying seated
- Excessive talking
- Being loud when socially inappropriate (e.g., during dinner or at school)
- Sudden bursts of energy that lead to the child moving excessively
- Blurting out answers before a question has been finalized
- Interrupting others when they are speaking
ADHD - Combined presentation
The severity of the symptoms of ADHD varies between individuals. Symptoms that are more commonly seen in boys may be seen in girls, and vice versa. When a doctor diagnoses ADHD, they may consider a combined type ADHD diagnosis if a patient shows six or more symptoms of the other two types of ADHD.
What are the main causes of ADHD in children?
The exact cause and risk factors for ADHD are unknown. It is understood, however, that genetics and circumstances of birth have an influence on an individual developing ADHD.
Neuroimaging research has shown that structural alterations present themselves in the brains of children and adults with ADHD. Certain regions of the brain of people with ADHD are smaller and take longer to mature. These changes occur whether or not psycho-stimulant medications are consumed by the patients (source).
While the brain development of children with ADHD is delayed, a child’s intelligence is not affected by this phenomenon. This change in size may be focused on brain areas responsible for the control of emotions and a person’s working memory. The brain size of adults with ADHD tends to be similar to that of adults without ADHD.
According to research, babies who are born prematurely are at a higher risk of developing ADHD during their school years. The appearance of ADHD symptoms is higher for children who are born a month or more before their due date. Children who are born very early (between 23 to 28 weeks of gestation) have more than double the risk of developing ADHD than children who are carried to term (source).
Genes and heredity may play a role in a person developing anxiety and psychiatric disorders. It is very likely that, if an individual shows symptoms, they may have inherited them from a parent.
Harmful prenatal exposure
The consumption of alcohol, nicotine, and similar substances during pregnancy may increase the risk of a child developing ADHD.
In certain cases, toxins in the environment may be responsible for the development of ADHD in children. Lead, for example, is a neurotoxin that can interfere with neurotransmitters and cause the formation of abnormal behavior (source).
In contrast, there is no evidence that the following factors have an influence on the development of ADHD in children:
- Consumption of too much sugar
- Food additives
- Allergic reactions
At what age is ADHD diagnosed?
Children with ADHD are commonly diagnosed during their elementary school years. An ADHD diagnosis at an earlier stage of development is possible but the condition is too similar to normal toddler behavior for a completely accurate assessment to be made.
Why do so many children have ADHD?
It is not that the number of children with ADHD has risen, but that our understanding of the condition has improved. Thanks to advancements in mental health, ADHD has become easier to diagnose and effective treatment plans for children with the condition are available.
5 tips to help kids better manage ADHD
1. Parental support
Children with ADHD tend to receive harsher criticism than their peers and this can have a drastic impact on their self-esteem. Every child needs lots of love and support, but children with ADHD may need it in spades. It is very important for parents to positively reinforce their child’s good behavior and be understanding of their mistakes.
2. Building stronger relationships
Kids and young people with medical conditions may find it difficult to develop social skills and make new friends. Parents can help their children learn how to bond with other people by maintaining a close and healthy relationship with them. By setting aside some time during the week to have quality time with your kid, you will teach them the proper way to handle themselves socially.
For young children with ADHD who have a difficult time making friends, parents may wish to step in up to a certain degree. For instance, parents may host play dates or try to get their kid involved in pastimes they can share with other children their age.
3. Being clear with directions
The rules that children with ADHD follow must always be consistent and predictable. Parents must give their children commands firmly without being intimidating. Making eye contact or gently touching a child’s arm or shoulder will help have control of their attention. Tasks should be given in brief, simple steps that are easy to remember instead of blurting out several directions or statements at once.
4. Develop consistent routines
Organization is essential to teach kids with ADHD how to follow a healthy routine. For instance, if your child needs to take prescription medication, this should always be taken as prescribed and at the right time. Moreover, children should eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and have time to play and exercise. A healthy daily routine will minimize ADHD symptoms and teach children behavior management skills that will help them later in life.
5. Download the Kairos App
From doing their homework to getting to bed on time and brushing their teeth, children have a variety of assignments to accomplish and keep track of during the day. The best way to make sure your child learns how to be responsible is to make their daily routine fun.
Kairos is a fun videogame designed to teach children how to be independent and take care of themselves. In Kairos, children protect the Earth from evil aliens by completing a series of tasks that can be customized by parents. A built-in virtual assistant can guide parents through the steps needed to set up their child’s schedule and offer positive parenting recommendations.
Benefits of Kairos for children:
- Cool superpowers: These act as rewards your child can claim by performing well. These can be chosen by the children or parents and can include going to the park and similar recreational activities.
- Customization: Children can unlock various cosmetic options to change their in-game avatar’s design, giving it a personal touch.
- Colorful gameplay: Kairos has a beautiful and inviting visual design that helps children keep their focus.
- Creating a positive atmosphere: Saving the world gives children’s play a sense of purpose. By completing assignments important to their health and well-being, children will discover their true potential.
Benefits of Kairos for parents:
- Lighten the load: The app contains a digital parenting coach and advisor who can handle a portion of parenting while also offering advice to new parents.
- A science-based therapeutic approach: Video games can reduce ADHD in kids and can be a considerable asset during a child’s development.
- A user-friendly interface: The app has been designed to be intuitive and easy to use.