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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children

Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice.

ADHD is a brain disorder that causes a psychiatric condition in children. Problems arise when children need to concentrate or follow general rules. Parents often complain about above-normal levels of activity and energy, inattention, poor academic performance, relationship problems. And this list of complaints does not end there. Children with ADHD need support and understanding from their families, teachers, psychologist, and medical team.

  • According to a study by the American Psychiatric Association, between 3% and 11% of US schoolchildren are diagnosed with ADHD. For example, 9 out of 100 students are more likely to have ADHD.
  • In 25-30% of cases, children outgrow ADHD.
  • About 50% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms into adulthood. However, it becomes more manageable.
  • In rare cases, ADHD can develop into psychopathy. It is characterized by personality changes, severe social problems, and addictions.

The History of ADHD

An early description of ADHD was noted in 1798 by Scottish physician Sir Alexander Crichton, who called it Mental Restlessness. A century later, in 1902, a British pediatrician noticed that some children of normal intelligence could not control their behavior. He described the condition as An Abnormal Defect of Moral Control in Children.

The first report on psychostimulant treatment was published in 1937. Due to pronounced neurological signs, the disorder was called Minimal Brain Damage (MBD). Later, the condition was renamed Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MBD) since patients did not have any anatomical brain damage. In 1980, the syndrome was called ADHD in the international psychiatric classification.

Common Signs of ADHD in Children

The symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person. For that reason, doctors do not always make the right diagnosis. Children with ADHD tend to.

  • Constantly interrupt or intrude on others’ conversations.
  • Have trouble waiting their turn when playing games with other children.
  • Have difficulty controlling emotions and containing anger. ⠀
  • Move a lot (often fidget, jiggle their legs or arms, tap hands or feet).
  • Have trouble playing quietly. They never choose quiet games. ⠀
  • Show interest in lots of different things, but may have problems finishing them.
  • Have trouble paying attention, even when someone is speaking directly to them.
  • Have difficulty organizing tasks. They cannot set priorities or follow the schedule. ⠀
  • Be forgetful. They can forget about lessons or homework, as well as forget things at school.
  • Talk fast and loudly, blurt out answers before questions are completed.
  • Rush when talking, dropping word endings, or skipping words in the sentence.
  • Show excessive physical activity like running in circles, bouncing, jumping.
  • Have vivid facial expressions, frequent changes of emotions for no reason (anger-surprise-joy-fear).
  • Lack of instinct for self-preservation. They can run out into the road, ice, climb to dangerous heights.

The signs listed above are manifested everywhere: at home, at school, on a walk. At the same time, ADHD children do not have difficulty with processing information as in autism! People do not understand the causes of the child's unusual behavior. They usually say, "I know that you can clearly understand and hear what I am saying, but you continue doing wrong!" This is the problem. Sometimes parents have to keep children under their strict control.

Causes of ADHD in Children

Despite a century-old history of ADHD research, scientists have yet to determine the exact cause of the disease. There are only a number of theories that we have presented below.

A child with ADHD plays on a smartphone
  • Genetics. Almost all behavioral disorders in children are related to genetic factors. However, it is impossible to predict whether a child with a genetic predisposition will actually develop ADHD. Human behavior is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Under certain conditions, a genetic predisposition to ADHD can lead to the disorder, while in other cases it may never develop.
  • Rhesus incompatibility between the blood types of the mother and baby.
  • The use of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine during pregnancy can result in adverse health effects on the fetal brain.
  • Premature birth.
  • Birth injuries, as well as head injuries and acute infectious diseases in infants.
  • Disorders of the thyroid gland.
  • Excessive consumption of sugar and foods with harmful food additives.
  • Lead poisoning.
  • Stressful life conditions (frequent relocations, divorce).
  • Addiction to gadgets and TV in children.

These factors do not always lead to the development of the disease. ADHD is always associated with a combination of genetic predisposition and adverse environmental factors, especially during the first year of a child's life.

Many parents are afraid of hyperactivity as their children cannot stay calm even for a minute. Parents keep thinking about why they are like that. Scientists have recently been able to partially answer this question. Increased physical activity in children with ADHD stimulates the brain centers that are responsible for self-control and thinking. In fact, the child's brain gives the command to move more with the purpose of aligning the development of the lagging brain areas. That is why it is so important for ADHD children to be active.

How does ADHD Affect the Brain?

Since ADHD is a neurological disorder, the symptoms can be observed not only externally but also internally, in the brain. Major disruptions occur in the frontal lobes of the child's brain. They are responsible for control, self-regulation, decision-making, planning, behavior. Frontal lobe disorders cause a ripple effect to the coordinated work of other parts of the brain - the cerebellum (movement disorder) and the temporal lobes of the brain (behavioral disorders, anxiety, impulsivity). These factors help doctors treat ADHD symptoms. Drug therapy can affect the damaged areas of the patient's brain and control their correct functioning.

In summary, it is important to remember that children with ADHD are psychologically vulnerable. Besides, hyperactivity is the body's method of compensating for disturbances in the brain. If you notice a few symptoms of ADHD in your child, make sure you talk to your child's doctor about it. Or book a consultation at Lake Conway through the feedback form.

Our doctors will answer your questions and help you choose specialists for further assessment or diagnosis.

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