Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
There are four different types of ADHD,
all with their own defining characteristics.
If you are concerned with whether your child has ADHD, below are the diagnostic
criteria used by psychologist and psychiatrists as a guide to determine whether
a child has the condition.
Hyperactive type ADHD (any 6 of the following):
Fidgets or squirms
Gets up when is expected to sit or lie
Runs or climbs excessively/inappropriately
Has difficulty with quiet activities like
reading, drawing, or painting
Described as “on the go, “constantly moving”
or “driven by a motor”
Blurts out answers before the question
has been completely asked
Difficulty waiting turns
Intrusive of others
Inattentive type ADHD (any 6 of the following):
Makes careless mistakes on school work
Difficulty sustaining attention
Appears not to listen or hear when spoken
Difficulty finishing work/activities
Difficulty completing tasks as instructed
Difficulty organizing tasks
Commonly avoids, dislikes or is reluctant
to do tasks that require attention (like writing, mathematics, etc.)
Frequently loses items
Combined type ADHD-a mix of any of the above characteristics, totaling at least 6.
ADHD, not otherwise specified: this is a catch all category for a child
with attention problems that doesn’t quite meet the minimum of 6 from the symptoms
Boys are more likely to be impacted by
ADHD and exhibit hyperactive symptoms.and
Typically ADHD is suspected when a child begins school and is expected to sustain
attention and control of their behavior for long periods of time. (see
Home and School Tips)
Girls are more likely to be impacted by
the inattentive type of ADHD and are more likely to go undiagnosed.
In general, women realize they have ADHD during stressful times in their
life when demands are high and
their ability to multi-task is impacted.
Additions of children to the family, learning a new job or returning to school
are common times women suspect attention problems.
it be anything else?
ADHD symptoms mimic a lot of disorders
in children including sleep disorders (if your child snores there’s a good chance
this is the source of the ADHD symptoms), sensory processing disorder (SPD), generalized
anxiety disorder, or learning delays.
An assessment performed by a psychologist or occupational therapist is always recommended. Sometimes medications can help rule
in or out a diagnosis. If your child
doesn’t respond to several different ADHD medications, they don’t have ADHD.
So, what causes it?
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, however,
research has found that people with ADHD have dysfunctional frontal lobe and subcortical
connections in the brain. The frontal
lobe and cortical structures of the brain are primarily responsible for activities
like attention span, organization, and behavior control.
The basal ganglia, a structure in the brain that connects motor activity
and thinking, is smaller in volume than a normal brain.
In addition to brain structure abnormalities, the neurochemicals
are different too. In children with
ADHD, serotonin levels are low leading to symptoms like impulsivity and a lack of
inhibition. Dopamine, involved in memory,
concentration and controlling emotions is also lower than normal.
Finally, norepinephrine, needed for analysis and reasoning are low.
Fortunately, there are several medications
available to treat the chemical imbalances:
Medications and Side Effects