Childhood Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

How does attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) present?

Although inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are considered to be the three main presentations of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), not every patient experiences the condition in the same way.

In some individuals, one factor may feature predominately whilst others may experience a more equal distribution of symptoms.

Whilst everyone may experience periods of inattention or impulsivity from time to time, the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) means that these features interfere with effective functioning and development.

In order for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to be diagnosed, the physician must be convinced that the patient’s symptoms are long-lasting, chronic and causing the patient’s development rate to fall.

By assessing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in this manner, physicians can rule out temporary hyperactivity and other causes, thus ensuring that unnecessary treatment is avoided.

What is childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

When young people are diagnosed with the condition, it is known as childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Although it is normally for young children to display signs of hyperactivity or impulsivity, when childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is present, these behaviors may be more pronounced and occur more often.

When children begin pre-school or attend kindergarten, the presence of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder normally becomes apparent. They may struggle to follow instructions, be unable to complete tasks or fidget consistently. As hyperactivity is often more prevalent in young people, children may appear to be ‘on the go’ all the time, be unable to remain in their seats for long periods and they may regularly interrupt others.

As a school environment is normally the first place a child will experience regular structured learning and play, it is here that issues of hyperactivity and inattention may first be noticed. Often, childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder professionals will work closely with teachers when diagnosing or treating the condition.

How common is childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

Although numerous people are affected by the condition, it is difficult to determine exactly how many children are affected by the condition. Whilst the American Psychiatric Association has stated that approximately 5% of children are affected by childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, recent studies have suggested that this figure may be closer to 11%.

However, it is important to recognize that studies on the prevalence of the condition rely on existing diagnoses. If a child is not referred to a medical professional or their parents are unable to access treatment, their condition may be undiagnosed. It is possible, therefore, that the actual rate of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is far higher than reported.

Can childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder be treated?

Although childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can’t be cured, there are a number of treatments which can be used to manage the condition.

One of the most common forms of treatment for childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is medication. Whilst medication young children has sometimes been seen as controversial, many studies have shown that it can be beneficial in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Somewhat surprisingly, the use of stimulants can be effective when treating childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The additional dopamine and norepinephrine released following drug intake can help patients to focus and can reduce inattention.

Non-stimulant medication can be used in some cases but this is often the second form of treatment. As any drugs can have side effects, stimulant medication may not suitable for all patients. If so, a non-stimulant medication can be used in order to determine if it provides any relief of symptoms.

If parents of a young child are keen to avoid the use of medication, psychotherapy can also be used when treating childhood attention hyperactivity disorder. Behavioral therapy, for example, can encourage children to reward their own desirable behavior, thus increasing their awareness of hyperactive behaviors.

Parents and children who are adapting to the condition may often find that changes to their daily routine can help minimize destructive behaviors. Clear and consistent rules, a regular schedule and simple organizational techniques can help both adults and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to manage the condition effectively.

Whilst the number of young people affected by childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may appear to be increasing, it is more likely that increasing numbers of patients are getting the diagnosis and treatment they need.

As awareness of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is heightened, people may be more understanding of the condition. As a result, our understanding of the effects of ADHD is likely to evolve, as is the treatment options available to both adult and juvenile patients.

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Last Reviewed:
July 16, 2017
Last Updated:
October 24, 2017