ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active. It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviours. The symptoms continue, can be severe, and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.
A child with ADHD might: daydream a lot, forget or lose things a lot, squirm or fidget, talk too much, make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks, have a hard time resisting temptation, have trouble taking turns, have difficulty getting along with others. The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Deciding if a child has ADHD is a process with several steps. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms.
In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of behaviour therapy and medication. For preschool-aged children (4-5 years of age) with ADHD, behaviour therapy, particularly training for parents, is recommended as the first line of treatment. What works best can depend on the child and family. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups, and making changes, if needed, along the way.
If you or your doctor has concerns about ADHD, you can take your child to a specialist such as a child psychologist or developmental paediatrician, or you can contact your local early intervention agency (for children under 3) or public school (for children 3 and older).