Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can disrupt personal, school, family, and social functioning. If it is not identified and treated early, it can have consequences throughout adult life.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that has 2 main characteristics: 1) inattention and 2) hyperactivity or impulsivity. Although these types of behaviors are found in all children, they are chronic and very pronounced for those with ADHD. And they manifest themselves in all the circumstances of their life (not just at home or at school, for example).
It is estimated that 5% to 8% of the population suffers from ADHD. It has long been believed that boys are more affected than girls, but the most recent studies do not draw a distinction between the sexes.
This disorder is generally diagnosed around the age of 7, but children who suffer from it often have had difficult behaviors from the age of 2. In half of the cases, ADHD persists into adulthood, but symptoms may decrease during adolescence. Knowledge about ADHD has improved a lot in recent years and care has improved a lot.
About half of children with ADHD also have other problems, such as learning disabilities, anxiety, opposition, or emotional problems. These problems often lead to socialization difficulties and poor self-esteem. For this reason, the evaluation of children may require the intervention of several professionals: psychologists, teachers, educators, educational specialists, social workers, etc.
Symptoms of ADHD
Your child may have ADHD if he has had for 6 months or more:
at least 6 symptoms of inattention;
at least 6 symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity;
at least 6 symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.
These symptoms must appear in several circumstances (e.g. at home, daycare, and school), to a degree that does not correspond to the child’s level of development. Some of these symptoms must have been present before the age of 7.
When to consult?
It is necessary to consult a doctor when the child’s agitation is present at all times, disrupts his exchanges and his learning, and makes family life impossible. Here are some clues to better assess the situation:
- The duration of the behavior: more than 3 to 6 months.
- Its frequency: several times a day or several crises per week.
- His consistency: this happens to him in several places, with several stakeholders.
- Its intensity: this has consequences for the child and his environment.
- The impact on his life: this affects his self-esteem, his academic results.
Certain situations can cause symptoms similar to those of ADHD. This is the case, for example, of a conflicting family situation, of separation, of incompatibility of characters between the child and his teacher or of conflicts with friends. Sometimes hearing problems explain inattention. Finally, other health problems can cause these symptoms or make them worse. If in doubt, it is best to discuss it with the child’s doctor.