ADHD in Children and Adolescents
Many children can be “hyperactive,” act without thinking or not pay attention at certain ages or in some situations. Some normal but temperamentally difficult children are highly active, impulsive and very easily distracted, but not to the level of a “psychiatric disorder.”
What Is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder) is a “neurodevelopmental” condition in which certain areas of the brain do not function normally, so that brain development is altered. ADHD tends to run in families. When severe, the symptoms greatly interfere with the child’s functioning and relationships at home, in school and with peers. ADHD is quite often associated with speech and language difficulties, poor coordination and learning problems or even learning disabilities. These children will need special help.
Are There Different Kinds of ADHD?
Yes, there are three types:
- Hyperactive and impulsive
- Inattentive (also known as ADD)
- A combination of the two.
Hyperactive and Impulsive. Your child is probably a boy. You will recognize some of the following:
- He can’t sit still and is always in a rush
- He is loud. He talks too much and too quickly
- He interrupts and blurts out answers
- He acts without thinking
- He can lose control and become physical
- He may have behavioral problems in school.
Inattentive. Your child may be a girl or a boy. You will recognize some of the following:
- She loses focus and is easily distracted
- He doesn’t complete tasks
- She daydreams, is a “space cadet”
- He is messy and disorganized
- He has problems in school and with homework. However, girls with ADD may be overlooked by the teacher because they don’t misbehave.
A Combination of the Two. Your child is hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive, and is almost certainly having problems in school.
Teens with ADHD
If the condition was diagnosed and treated early, teenagers do well, although they may still have some difficulties, especially inattention, and they may need some continued therapy. Without help, adolescents with severe ADHD are at risk for academic failure, psychiatric problems and drug abuse. They can become socially isolated and their self-image is low.
What About the Family?
Hyperactive and impulsive children can be very hard to parent. They can be exhausting, stubborn and argumentative. Discipline becomes ineffective with too much punishment, which just makes the child angrier and more resistant. A vicious cycle develops. If the conflicts continue, your other children are affected by the arguing and fighting, and the marriage becomes strained. After some time, the child’s self-image begins to suffer and emotional problems develop.