What Is ADHD and How Does IT Effect Children

Between three and ten percent of all school-aged children have ADHD. Read on to learn more about the symptoms and diagnosis of ADHD.

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What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It's the most common psychiatric condition among children in the United States. It's estimated that between three and ten percent of all school-aged children have some degree of ADHD and according to Dr. Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, five percent of American adults suffer from it also. Most often, a child with ADHD will be diagnosed when he enters his first year of school, where his behaviors show up more readily in an environment designed to promote common standards of behavior. But more and more children are being diagnosed before they reach their school years and many people who suffer from ADHD in childhood continue to demonstrate symptoms in to adulthood.

Signs of ADHD

Some of the symptoms of ADHD are a lack of attentiveness or consistent distraction, hyperactivity and pronounced impulsiveness (moving from one topic to the next in conversation, for example, or from one activity to the next). Just about everyone, especially children, exhibits these characteristics at one time or another, so diagnosis of ADHD can be difficult. But according to the National Institute of Mental Health, a true ADHD case will demonstrate these symptoms in a way that is inappropriate for a person of his age.

Co-existing Conditions

ADHD often goes hand in hand with other psychiatric conditions, a fact that can aid in diagnosis. Depression and anxiety are two examples. As people get older and academic or personal responsibilities increase, the social and professional impact of ADHD becomes more pronounced. Research indicates that teenagers and adults who suffer from ADHD are more likely to develop harmful or self-destructive behaviors, such as drug use, irresponsible driving techniques, and general recklessness.

ADHD can have a heavy impact on a child's social, academic and professional future. But it does not have to. Much research has been done and there is help available. If you suspect your child has ADHD, talk to his teacher and his pediatrician to find out what to do next. Have him evaluated by a professional caregiver as soon as you can. Educate yourself on the realities of ADHD. Dispel yourself of any myths surrounding the condition and establish clear, honest communication with your child on the subject. With your support he'll learn to cope and eventually thrive.

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