Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
My child has been acting out in school recently and in public whenever we visit restaurants or stores. He doesn’t sit for long and doesn’t focus or listen to my directions. Every time I try to talk to him, he loses interest and starts playing with a nearby toy or game. Not only is it incredibly frustrating to help him in school, but it’s a little embarrassing, too. I feel like this is a reflection of me as a parent. His guidance counselor at school suggested having him evaluated because she suspected he might have ADHD. Is he just being a boy, is this a phase, or could these be signs that something’s actually wrong? How do I know and what do I do?
As a parent, we know you want to give your kid the best, including helping them succeed and making their struggles or pain disappear. However, when your child’s behavior seems uncontrollable and there’s a chance that ADHD could be playing a role, it could be a bit more complicated and we’re here to help.
Rice Psychology Group knows that dealing with a new diagnosis can be overwhelming and confusing. Disorders like ADHD can especially be difficult to navigate when there is a lot of information provided by different sources. So how do you know what is true or false?
We’ve put together a guide to help parents like you better understand ADHD, the symptoms you should look out for, and what to expect after your child has received a diagnosis.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is considered a developmental brain disorder, not a behavior disorder, that starts in childhood. It’s thought to impact about 5% of children and can last into adulthood. People can refer to this condition as ADHD AND ADD. Typically the ‘H’ is included or left out depending on how hyper and impulsive the person is. ADHD has upsides and downsides. The upside is that many people with ADHD are highly creative, passionate, and out-of-the-box thinkers. The downside is that many with ADHD struggle with directing their attention and focus, persevering with things that are important, but not necessarily interesting, staying organized, and generally managing themselves well. People with ADHD are not being the way they are on purpose and they are not making a choice to be difficult. ADHD can be a lifelong condition.
What Causes ADHD?
Scientists aren’t a 100% sure what causes ADHD, however researchers suggest these potential factors:
- Genetics – this condition may be hereditary.
- Developmental – issues with the central nervous system during early development and premature births may affect children.
Different Versions of ADHD
As of the date of this blog, there are three different diagnostic names that are used to diagnose ADHD. These include:
- Predominately inattentive presentation
- Predominately hyperactive impulsion presentation
- Combined presentation
Look For These Common Signs
Children with ADHD typically begin to show signs between ages 3 and 12. ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed in boys than girls, however both can have it. Since boys are more likely to show behavior issues than girls, it’s easier to diagnose them. And because we diagnose based on the number of problematic behaviors a child shows, the acting out kids are more likely to get diagnosed than the ones whose struggles are less visible. Since girls tend to suffer more internally, it can be easier to miss. Common signs to look for can include:
- Difficulty maintaining focus.
- Easily or constantly distracted.
- Disorganized play and school work.
- Difficulty following instructions and completing tasks, such as homework and chores.
- Squirmy, fidgety or unable to stay seated when it’s appropriate.
- Misplacing essential items, such as a shoe, homework, their eye glasses, etc.
- May make careless mistakes.
Myths About ADHD
There are many inaccuracies floating around about ADHD. That’s why our psychologists in Tampa want to set the record straight about a few common myths:
Myth: ADHD only affects children.
Fact: While most diagnosed with ADHD are children, adults can also have the disorder.
Myth: Children are being over-diagnosed with ADHD.
Fact: Although the number of children diagnosed increases every year, this increase is mainly due to behavioral experts better understanding the condition and identifying symptoms.
Myth: ADHD stems from poor parenting.
Fact: Like we previously stated, the root of ADHD has yet to be determined. However, we can confidently say that poor parenting is not to blame.
Learn more about the myths surrounding ADHD here.
The treatment for ADHD can vary depending on the severity and the types of symptoms. Overall, research has shown and supported that the best way to treat ADHD is to combine behavioral treatment and medication. Why this combination? Medication can help manage brain functions and symptoms, while the therapeutic side of therapy can help provide essential education, structure, skills, and support.
*Important note: To reduce the risk of substance-use disorders, treatment with stimulant medication should begin prior to 9 years of age, according to research on the life-long health factors that affect children with ADHD. Learn more here.
Contact our Tampa Psychologists
Rice Psychology Group aims to share essential information about conditions such as ADHD. We do this so that we can help your family learn to adapt and live a happier and healthier life. Our team of licensed psychologists and therapists in Tampa provides a safe and judgment-free setting for all families. Contact us today to schedule your free, 10-minute consultation.