Your child is struggling in school. According to his teacher, he is hyperactive, has trouble paying attention and can’t control his behavior. What’s going on?
Those symptoms may be caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that affects many children. It is also one that is easily misunderstood and sometimes written off as bad behavior. As a result, children with undiagnosed ADHD may experience academic and social problems that follow them into adolescence and adulthood. But when identified and treated early, ADHD can be managed.
“Once we achieve some control of ADHD symptoms through medication, I work with parents to determine whether the child has issues that we often see together with ADHD, such as depression, anxiety or others,” said Neal Spears, M.D., F.A.A.P., pediatrician with St. Joseph. “Studies show that early treatment of kids with ADHD significantly improves their long-term socioeconomic outcomes and reduces their risk of substance abuse and legal trouble, compared to untreated children with ADHD.”
Know the Signs
If you have noticed that any of the following habits or behaviors interfere with your child’s daily life, it may be time to talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of ADHD:
- Boredom after spending only a few minutes on a task
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme impatience
- Nonstop talking
- Trouble following instructions
Your doctor will work with you, your child’s teachers and any other recommended consultants to help determine whether your child would benefit from medication or other forms of therapy. Standardized tests are often utilized in making this diagnosis.
Dealing with ADHD
It’s also important to help your child deal with ADHD by sticking to a daily routine, scheduling wake-up time, homework, playtime and bedtime.
“It helps for parents to teach a child with ADHD how to be very organized,” Dr. Spears said. “Part of their routine should be writing down everything they need to do, getting their backpacks ready for the next day before bed time, having a dedicated place in the home for doing homework and completing homework as soon as possible after school.”