Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition of the brain that can affect how you behave. It can make you hyperactive, impulsive, and/or make it hard to pay attention. These problems happen anywhere you go including home, school, or work. ADHD is often first noticed when you are a child. If you have mild symptoms you may not know you have ADHD until you are an adult.
There are 3 types of ADHD:
Inattentive (classic "ADD")
Combined inattentive and hyperactive—the most common type
ADHD is a lifelong condition but its effect can be managed with treatment. The goal of treatment is to improve the child's ability to grow, learn, and have relationships. Doctors should work together with parents, school staff, and other health professionals. Together, they can set realistic goals and keep an eye on the child's response. Proper treatment can prevent problems later in life.
Children who do not sleep enough may suffer from worse behavioral problems. A key part of treatment is to ensure that children with ADHD get plenty of sleep. Below are the recommended hours of sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
3-5 years old should sleep 10-13 hours each day including naps
6-12 years old should sleep 9-12 hours each day
Teenagers 13-18 years old should sleep 8-10 hours each day
For children over 6 years of age, medications may be used alone or may be combined with therapy. They can help to control behavior and increase focus.
Stimulants are the most common type of medication used to treat ADHD. They increase activity in parts of the brain that seem to be less active in those with ADHD. Stimulant medications:
May be short-acting or long-acting
May be given as a pill, liquid, or as a patch that is applied to the skin
May have increased risk of psychiatric problems (some medications)
May decrease appetite
The doctor will work to find medication with the most benefit and least risk for each child.
Other medications that may be considered include:
Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors—to promote attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity
Antidepressants—to manage depression symptoms
Antipsychotics—to treat aggressive behavior
Certain blood pressure lowering medication—to treat impulsivity
Medication may not be the first choice to treat preschool children. Treatment may start with behavior therapy alone. Medication may be added if the first treatment plan is not working.
Therapy may be all that is needed for younger children. In children that need medication, therapy can help them do better.
Therapy will help by teaching new social and problem solving skills. Parents and teachers will also be shown ways to help their children adapt. This may include changes in the classroom, as well as changes to how they parent. For example, an air cushion on a child's seat at school allows the child to move their body without distracting other students. Moving their body may help them increase their attention span.
ADHD coaching can also be helpful for older children and adults. Coaches work with people to help them organize and be more successful.
Neurofeedback is a treatment that has shown some promise but is still being studied. This treatment shows brain wave patterns on a screen and gives a cue when attention starts to wander. The goal is to re-train the brain to avoid patterns that lead to distraction.
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https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/Diagnosing-ADHD-in-Children-Guidelines-Information-for-Parents.aspx. Updated January 9, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
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