Does my child have ADHD?

Little boy shouting
Every child’s behaviour can occasionally be loud and boisterous. So how can you tell the difference between lively activity and something more serious?
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Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, otherwise known as ADHD, is a complicated condition. It’s hard to identify the cause and can be difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms include restlessness, poor concentration and impulsive behaviour which can involve interrupting conversation, speaking out of turn or doing something physically dangerous. Children with ADHD often suffer from other conditions, such as dyslexia, depression and a range of other learning difficulties, too.

ADHD – who’s affected?

It’s estimated that between 5% and 10% of children suffer from ADHD. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed than girls. This doesn’t mean that they’re more likely to suffer, instead it may mean that their behaviour is easier to diagnose. Girls who suffer from ADHD may be more quietly distracted, rather than boisterous.

If there is a history of ADHD in the family, there’s a greater likelihood your child could suffer from the condition. Other causes can include exposure to toxins during pregnancy, food additives and brain anatomy. It can be difficult to specify an exact cause for ADHD and research is still being carried out to find out more.

Getting diagnosed

Diagnosis usually takes place between the ages of three and seven. ADHD is not a straightforward condition to diagnose and specialists have to take into account a wide range of factors when assessing your child. For a diagnosis to take place your child will need to have been suffering from ADHD symptoms for at least six months. They will also have to display symptoms in more than one setting, for example home and school.

If you’re concerned about your child’s behaviour, it may be worth assessing their lifestyle. Ensure they have a routine in their day with a regular bedtime and are getting enough sleep at night. Make sure they’re getting enough physical exercise and aren’t spending too much time in front of a television, computer or games console. Evidence has shown that children’s behaviour can be affected by food additives, too, so try to make sure they’re eating a balanced diet and are not consuming too many foods and drinks with artificial additives in them. Children with ADHD will still display symptoms even when adjustments to their lifestyle are made.

If you suspect your child is suffering from the condition then take them to your GP. If your GP agrees with you then they will refer your child to a specialist. It’s important to seek medical help if you’re worried, the sooner the diagnosis is made, the more support can be provided for your child.