‘Attention deficit (ADD)’,‘Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)', ‘hyperkinetic disorder'
ADHD is a disorder which often becomes obvious in early childhood. The behaviours are due to underlying problems of poor attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. About 2 to 5% of school age children can suffer from ADHD. Boys are more commonly affected than girls.
Many children, especially under-fives, are inattentive and restless. This does not necessarily mean they are suffering from ADHD. The inattention or hyperactivity becomes a problem when they are exaggerated, compared with other children of the same age, and when they affect the child, their school, social and family life.
About 1 in 3 children with diagnosis of ADHD can grow out of their condition and not require any treatment when they are adults. The majority who receive specialist treatment tailored to their needs may benefit considerably. They will have been able to catch up with their learning, improve their school performance and make friends.
There is no single, simple, definite test for ADHD. Making a diagnosis requires a specialist assessment, usually done by a child psychiatrist or specialist paediatrician. The diagnosis is made by recognising patterns of behaviour, observing the child, obtaining reports of their behaviour at home and at school. Sometimes a computerised test may be done to aid the diagnosis. Some children also need specialised tests by clinical or educational psychologist.
Medications can play an important role in managing moderate to severe ADHD. Medications can help to reduce hyperactivity and improve concentration. The improved concentration gives the child the opportunity and time to learn and practise new skills.