According to the National Institute of Mental Health, attention deficit hyper activity disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common childhood brain disorders. The disorder has been known to continue through childhood to adulthood in some cases.
Your child might be suffering from ADHD if he or she is having issues concentrating or succeeding in school, getting along with other children, or finish tasks at home. ADHD can often be mistaken for bad behavior or disinterest in activities, so it’s important to speak with a mental health professional that if your child presents ADHD symptoms so that therapy options can be explored.
What are some signs and symptoms of childhood ADHD?
Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are some of the main behaviors for children that suffer from ADHD. It’s normal for all children to experience these activities to some degree, but for those affected by this disorder, the symptoms can be much more severe and occur more often. A child must be having symptoms for six months or more and to a greater degree than other children to be diagnosed with ADHD.
Symptoms of inattention include:
- Easily distracted, missing details, and being forgetful
- Frequently switching from one activity to another
- Having difficulty focusing on one thing
- Quickly becoming bored after a few minutes
- Difficulty focusing attention on organizing
- Difficulty learning something new
- Having trouble completing and turning in homework
- Seemingly not paying attention when spoken to
- Daydreaming or becoming easily confused
- Difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
- Struggling to follow instructions
Symptoms of hyperactivity include:
- Fidgeting and squirming when seated
- Talking nonstop
- Running around, playing with everything
- Trouble sitting during quiet times
- Being constantly in motion
- Difficulty doing quiet tasks
Symptoms of impulsivity include:
- Being very impatient
- Saying inappropriate comments
- Showing emotions without restraint
- Difficulty waiting for things
- Interrupting conversations or others’ activities
How can children with ADHD benefit from therapy?
There are different types of therapy available to children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Behavioral therapy works to help a child change his or her behavior. It involves practical assistance with organizing tasks and completing school work without difficulty. It also teaches a child to monitor behavior and to notice when he or she is having an outburst related to ADHD.
Therapists also teach your child social skills, like how to wait for a turn, share toys, and respond to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and responding appropriately may also be part of the social skills training.
Drug therapy might also be an option some therapists look into to treat ADHD. Most children are closely followed while on medication to see how they react. ADHD medications include stimulants, non-stimulants, antidepressants, and more. Drug therapy is used in combination with behavior therapy to help the child to the best of their abilities.
Which medications are used to treat ADHD in children?
Stimulants are the most common treatment for children with ADHD. It may seem counterproductive to give a child who shows hyperactivity a stimulant, but the stimulant actually has an opposite effect that eliminates some hyperactive behaviors. Some common stimulants include Adderall, Foclin, and Vyvanse.
Non-stimulants are another option for children with ADHD. Stimulants can sometimes cause bad side effects or simply not work well. Non-stimulants work by increasing the attention span of your child while lessening impulse behavior and hyperactivity. Some examples of non-stimulant medication include Strattera, Kapvay, and Intuniv.
Antidepressants address three aspects of ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. They may be an option for children who don’t respond well enough to stimulants alone. Taken together, these medications can reduce anxiety and calm the child down. Some examples of antidepressants include Norpramin, Tofranil, and Pamelor.
What type of mental health professional might oversee child ADHD therapies?
It’s important to find someone who is an expert in childhood ADHD, as it can be treated differently based on age. You should seek out a psychologist and a psychiatrist who both specialize in childhood ADHD. They are the only medical professionals who are able to diagnose and treat the disorder effectively.