Jack is an 7 year old bright and affectionate child. Since about the age of 3 Jack’s parents have struggled with managing his behavior. He has always been more difficult at home with frequent tantrums over what seemed to be the slightest misstep by others. Jack is driven by impulse and finds it hard to know how to respond to others in an appropriate social manner. He is loud and frequently rude and annoying to adults and peers alike. Jack does well academically but his Teachers frequently send notes home commenting on his disruptive behavior in the classroom. Constant tapping, humming and talking out of turn. Every morning is a fight to get Jack up and ready for school. Jack requires constant reminders to prepare himself for the day. He is disorganized, misplaces his school supplies and homework and becomes irritated and explosive when directed by his parents. A social child, Jack has struggled to make and keep friends. He picks at and jokes with his peers in a way that is off putting and has found himself ostracized from other children, even bullied. Children choose not to attend his birthday parties or extend an invitation for Jack to attend their own. Jack’s self -esteem is now starting to suffer. His parents are exhausted and discouraged. Do you know a child like Jack?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADD or ADHD, is a chronic condition that makes it difficult for those diagnosed to prevent spontaneous responses. ADHD includes attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness.
Attention deficit disorder often begins in childhood. It can persist into adulthood and be a lifelong condition. ADHD is a common disorder. There are three million documented cases of ADHD in the United States each year. While treatment can help, the condition itself cannot be cured.
How to Diagnose ADHD
ADHD can be difficult to diagnose. Most children forget their homework, have trouble sitting still, or occasionally act without thinking throughout their childhood. So, how can you tell if a child is acting age appropriately or if there is an underlying cause to their actions? Since ADHD can lead to problems at home and in school, it is important to talk to a professional about the possibility of ADHD before it affects a child’s ability to learn and get along with others.
Children with ADHD typically show signs and symptoms before the age of seven. While some are labeled as troublemakers or lazy children, the inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity associated with ADHD are very difficult to control. Most children with ADHD show multiple signs of the condition regardless of whether they are at school, home, or at play.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Since undiagnosed children often struggle with the symptoms of ADHD, it’s important to identify the signs and work towards a diagnosis. The signs and symptoms of ADHD are:
- Excitability or fidgeting
- Lack of restraint
- Persistent repetitive actions or words
- Short attention span
- Difficulty focusing
- Mood swings
- Learning difficulties
The signs and symptoms of a person with ADHD vary greatly depending on the characteristic the is predominate in their case. Some people with ADHD are hyperactive. Some sit quietly with their attention far away from the present situation they are in. Still others are mildly inattentive but overly impulsive. Children whose are inattentive often go undiagnosed because they are quiet and do not disrupt those around them.
Symptoms of Inattentiveness
Those whose primary characteristic of ADHD is inattentiveness don’t have a complete problem with focusing. They can easily stay on task and remain focused with things they enjoy or topics that interest them. But, when a task becomes boring or repetitive, they tune out.
Staying on track is difficult for those who display this primary characteristic. They tend to bounce from task to task without completing anything. They will even skip necessary steps in procedures or directions. They have difficulty staying organized and managing their time. They generally need a quiet environment to remain focused and have difficulty concentrating if things are going on around them.
Signs of inattentiveness are:
- Trouble staying focused
- Being easily distracted
- Getting bored with a task before its complete
- Appearing to not listen when spoken to
- Difficulty remembering things or following instructions
- Making careless mistakes
- No attention to detail
- Inability to stay organized
- Difficulty finishing projects or planning ahead
- Frequently misplacing things
- Appearing spacey or unmotivated
Symptoms of Hyperactivity
Hyperactivity is the most common sign of ADHD. Those with hyperactive tendencies have difficulty staying still. They may try to do several things at one time. When forced to sit still, those who are hyperactive may tap their foot, shake their leg, or drum their fingers.
Symptoms of Impulsivity
Children whose predominant ADHD characteristic is impulsivity have trouble with self-control. They interrupt conversations, ask inappropriate questions, and invade another person’s space because they are unable to censor themselves. They can be overly emotional or moody.
Treatment of ADHD
Treatment of ADHD involves a combination of education, behavior therapy, exercise, support, proper nutrition, and medication. There are various types of talk therapy that have proven to be effective with controlling the behaviors associated with ADHD. These include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviors, and emotional responses.
- Anger management to provide coping mechanisms for those with uncontrolled anger. The treatment is aimed at minimizing emotional outbursts.
- Intervention to treat personal problems that result from ADD. These problems can be related to school, work, family, or social life. They can include low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and difficulty with school and work.
- Family therapy to resolve conflicts and communication difficulties that result from ADHD behaviors.
- Applied behavior analysis to learn social skills through the encouragement of positive behaviors.
Thriveworks Henrico ADHD Therapists can assist with the assessment and diagnosis of ADHD. If a diagnosis is made the Clinician can assist you in creating an effective team to support treatment of the condition. A Thriveworks Henrico ADHD Counselor will work with you and your child to manage symptoms that may be impacting family relationships, peer relationships and school performance.
Medications for ADHD
In some cases, medication is necessary in the treatment of ADHD. Before considering any type of medication treatment, particularly treatment with stimulants a thorough social history, assessment and intake evaluation will need to be conducted by a Thriveworks Henrico Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. This may include collaboration with other involved people and professionals including parents, teachers, Physician and Counselors.
ADHD is often mistaken for other behavioral or emotional conditions. It is also widely misunderstood and inappropriately diagnosed and treated. The Counselors and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners at Thriveworks Henrico can help. Call today to schedule an assessment.