Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a medical condition that makes it hard for children to regulate their attention, organize themselves and control their impulses. For some children with hyperactivity, keeping quiet, staying seated or stopping all body movements is nearly impossible. While every child may have occasional moments of daydreaming, fidgeting or forgetfulness, someone with ADHD experiences these often, in multiple settings and over a period of at least six months.
During toddler and preschool years, difficulties with paying attention, staying still and controlling impulses are expected. As children age, they gain the ability to regulate behavior and sustain concentration to tasks as needed. Children with ADHD, in contrast, do not attain age-appropriate levels of self-control, organization and concentration. Symptoms usually appear before the age of 7 years.
Children with ADHD enter middle childhood with difficulty controlling their impulsive actions.
Signs may include:
- Faltering social skills: rudeness, willful disobedience and disregard for others.
- Easily frustrated and very active behavior which may lead to careless accidents, disapproval of others and potentially dangerous situations.
- Trouble following rules, “bossy” play and increasing social rejection.
- Lack of friends. Due to developmental delays, the ADHD child may be a bully victim, easily taunted and isolated from peers.
- Self-doubt and lack of self-esteem.
Early identification of the underlying disorder and a comprehensive treatment plan can help avert many difficulties. A trained clinician integrates information from home, school and the clinical visit to make a diagnosis. ADHD is treatable through ongoing interventions provided through the child’s medical practitioners, therapists, school staff and family.
Treatments include a combination of counseling, medications and interventions (ways to reduce distraction and stress at home and school). Open, collaborative communication between the child’s family, school and treatment professionals greatly improves quality of life for these children.
Ellyn Cavanagh, ARNP, PhD, joined The Everett Clinic in 2014 and provides specialized care for ADHD and Autism pediatric patients through our ADHD and Autism Behavior Clinic, available at our Marysville and Harbour Pointe locations.