We often observe children having difficulty sitting still or following instructions. Of course, our usual response is to call the child naughty and disobedient. But did you ever wonder if seemingly normal behavior could be a sign of a psychological condition?
What is ADHD in Children?
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder with its onset in childhood and lasting till adulthood. Usually, it is diagnosed in children before the age of seven. ADHD in young children is characterized by persistent patterns of impulsivity-hyperactivity or trouble paying attention which interferes with their routine development or functioning.
Overall, the disorder affects the individual’s memory, behavior, concentration and learning ability.
We have observed children in a classroom setting who cannot focus on one task and move on to the other. This not only affects their learning ability but also becomes the cause of disturbance for other students. Not just that, these children cannot sit still, are unable to follow instructions, and often have inappropriate comments to make. No amount of scolding or running around them would help unless you seek formal psychological help.
So, being mindful of the ADHD symptoms and treatment plan would allow you to understand your child better. In addition, you could help your child to overcome daily challenges and achieve a state of calmness to better function in life.
Causes of ADHD in Children
Clinicians report several interacting causes of ADHD in children. This condition is either purely inherited or acquired from environmental factors. Here’s a list of causes of ADHD in children:
Many cases of children with ADHD have indicated a strong biological basis. Neurologists have reported that it is either the abnormal activity of neurotransmitter dopamine or abnormalities in the frontal-striatal regions of the brain becoming causes of ADHD in children.
Genetic and Physiological
ADHD is caused by genetic mutation from first-degree biological relatives or parents. Genes become the hereditary causal factor of ADHD. Similarly, certain physiological markers may suggest ADHD, such as; visual or hearing abnormalities sleep disorders, metabolic abnormalities, nutritional deficiency, motor delays, or other neurological signs that indicate ADHD.
Neurodevelopmental disorder ADHD is often linked to high-stress levels, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Sometimes, issues with the central nervous system are also considered one of the causes of ADHD in children.
Some environmental factors correlated with ADHD in children are maternal drug use, smoking, or alcohol use. In other cases, there may be a history of child neglect, abuse, or multiple foster house placements playing a role.
How Would You Diagnose a Child with ADHD?
ADHD is quite difficult to diagnose. There are many symptoms displayed by the child that provide a basis for the clinical presentation of the disorder.
Certain symptoms, such as inattentiveness or hyperactivity, must persist across multiple settings before a clinical diagnosis can be made. Ideally, these behaviors are observed in multiple settings such as home, school and public places.
We know that the children are not good informants of their own behaviors. Therefore, the diagnosis must be supported by the informants of the child who have observed their behavior on multiple occasions or settings. It could be the parents, teachers, siblings or caregivers.
Signs of ADHD in Children
A child is diagnosed with ADHD if six of the following symptoms have persisted over six months:
- Fails to attend to details and often makes careless mistakes
- Experiences difficulty concentrating while performing tasks or other activities
- Shows inability to respond due to absentmindedness
- Shows inability to follow instructions and failure to complete assigned tasks
- Experiences difficulty organizing tasks or performing activities
- Usually avoids or dislikes performing activities requiring mental effort
- Often loses important materials or things required to accomplish tasks
- Often get easily distracted by external stimuli
- Usually is forgetful in daily activities such as running errands or doing chores
These symptoms altogether impact the academic and social activities of children.
The child has experienced at least 6 of the following mentioned symptoms over the time period of six months:
- Often fidgets, squirms or taps hands
- Inability to remain seated when asked
- Found running and climbing on inappropriate occasions
- Unable to quietly engage in leisure activities or plays
- Always on the go as if “driven by a motor.”
- Excessively talking
- Often blurts out answers
- Experiences difficulty waiting for own turn
- Intrudes or interrupts when others talk
These symptoms negatively impact social, academic and occupational activities.
The self-diagnosis of ADHD in children is not enough. In order to screen out a child with ADHD, it is important to conduct a clinical diagnosis with interviews, rating scales, and psychological tests. Mostly, parents receive an initial diagnosis from the child’s physician or pediatrician. But, it is necessary to consult mental health professionals for a better understanding of ADHD symptoms and treatment.
Impacts of ADHD on Young Children
If untreated, the ADHD symptoms in kids could worsen and cause many other problems, which are stated below;
- Lower self-esteem due to academic failure, scolding or judgment
- Underachiever scholastically with a lower grade point average
- More likely to be retained, suspended or expelled from school
- Depressive mood due to difficulty making friends or being treated poorly
- Most ADHD children fail to complete high school
- Risks of delinquency, drug or alcohol abuse
- Family conflict due to own condition
- Likely to experience more injuries and accidents than others
- Poor judgment skills and lack of communication skills
- Experience anxiety and have mood problems
How is ADHD Treated?
Clinicians suggest several treatment approaches that would make a huge difference in the lives of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD treatment in Dubai typically involves medication, behavioral interventions, counseling or psychotherapy. It is, however, essential to identify which form of treatment would be most effective for a child. For instance, it is either drug therapy, behavior therapy or a combination of both.
Most children receive prescribed medication from physicians or psychiatrists. ADHD is currently treated with a drug called “Methylphenidate”, a stimulant drug or other stimulant drugs such as “Amphetamines”. These stimulant drugs prove helpful for children with ADHD such as the drug Ritalin. Ritalin has proved to be quieting the effects of ADHD in children. It helps children regain focus, perform complex tasks and perform better at school.
Mental health professionals consider behavior therapies to be most effective for children with ADHD. Children are offered social skills training to help them learn socially acceptable behaviors. On the other hand, psychotherapists offer parenting skills training for parents to better understand their child’s behavior. Parents or, in most cases, teachers are taught behavior-changing strategies to shape a child’s behavior. These effective exercises are token reward systems to encourage a child to remain seated or time out to deal with difficult situations. In some cases, ABA therapy services are recommended to teach children new skills and help them reduce problematic behaviors.
If your child or student is exhibiting signs of ADHD, we recommend you seek professional psychological help from an ADHD specialist in Dubai.
Consult child and adolescent psychiatrists at Camali Clinic and help your child better function through their school years. Be mindful of ADHD symptoms in children and consult our ABA therapists in Dubai for expert behavioral intervention, counseling and psychotherapy.
Mr. Gabriel Rafi
- Graduated in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology from University Paris Descartes, France.