ADHD/ADD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Attention Deficit Disorder) often first shows up in childhood and can continue into adulthood. This condition can affect intellectual , social and psychological development. Although this condition often starts in childhood and hyperactivity may improve as the child becomes a teen, adolescents and adults can continue to experience inattention, poor organizations skills, and may have poor impulse control.
There are three recognized presentations:
- Hyperactive-impulsive type: The child often fidgets, runs around or squirms when seating is expected, talks excessively, interrupts others, has trouble waiting their turn.
- Inattentive type: The child often has trouble concentrating, becomes easily distracted, makes careless mistakes, has trouble completing tasks.
- Combined type: The child has symptoms from both the Hyperactive Impulsive type and Inattentive type.
There is no blood test to diagnose ADHD. Often teachers, doctors, and parents will notice these symptoms. A specialist will be able to confirm this diagnosis by taking into account a comprehensive history, acquiring third party observations, using behavior and symptom rating skills, and using extensive interview procedures. Often the child will be referred to neuropsychological testing as this will provide a brain function profile that can be helpful in attaining academic, testing and workplace accommodations.
ADHD treatment can include medications, education and skills training, therapy, or a combination of treatments. Research shows that the most effective treatment is to use a combination of these approaches. Medication helps normalize brain activity and is preferably prescribed and monitored by a psychiatry provider. These medications help reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity helping the child focus, work and learn. Medications used in ADHD can include: stimulants, non-stimulants, and antidepressants. In recent times, there has been a controversy in popular culture on the use of medications to treat ADHD; however, side effects of the medication usually outweighs the risks in children over six and adolescents. Long term risks of ADHD especially if it is untreated can include: unemployment, relationship difficulties, substance abuse, and engaging in risky or criminal behavior.