What is ADHD? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition affecting children and adults. It is characterized by symptoms affecting both behavior and concentration. Below are answers to some common ADHD FAQs.
Q: What is the difference between ADHD and ADD?
A: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was once known as attention deficit disorder (ADD). However, the name ADHD is now preferred because it reflects both types of symptoms: inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity.
Q: What are the symptoms of ADHD?
A: ADHD symptoms fall into two categories:
Inattentive behaviors are characterized by difficulty sustaining focus, and include being easily distracted, frequently forgetting things and making careless mistakes. Hyperactive-impulsive behavior includes trouble inhibiting thoughts and actions. Different individuals may present with different subtypes of ADHD, which are differentiated by the presence and frequency of specific behaviors.
Q: How do I recognize the difference between normal behavior and ADHD?
A: Most children display some degree of inattentiveness or poor impulse control. Behavior indicative of ADHD can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from typical behavior. If your child has trouble sustaining attention or inhibiting hyperactive/impulsive behavior in a variety of contexts, ADHD may be to blame. If the behavior surfaces only in a specific context, such as in school, it is more likely to be related to the demands or events in that environment. Teachers and daycare providers can also alert you to unusual behaviors, which can then be addressed with your child’s pediatrician.
Q: How is ADHD diagnosed?
A: If you suspect ADHD in your child, see your pediatrician. He can help to rule out a medical condition that may be contributing to your child’s behavior. If he suspects ADHD, he will likely refer you to a mental health professional specializing in ADHD. Diagnosis includes academic and IQ testing, as well as in-depth questioning about your child’s behaviors and the specific events and conditions that precipitate them.
Q: What causes ADHD?
A: The causes of ADHD are not fully understood. However, experts agree that the disorder is based on biological differences influenced by heredity, as well as environmental factors, such as exposure to certain toxins. Parenting style does not cause or prevent ADHD; however, certain ways of managing behavior can have a positive or a negative effect on symptoms.
Q: What are the implications of ADHD?
A: ADHD can lead to difficulty with both learning and social situations (interacting with peers). Behaviors at home may strain family relationships. Children and adults with ADHD are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior. Other conditions can coexist with ADHD, including:
AnxietyDepressionLearning disabilitiesOppositional defiant disorder.
Q: What can I do if my child is diagnosed with ADHD?
A: AN ADHD diagnosis can be frightening and confusing, and most parents have lots of questions about ADHD. Discuss treatment options, including therapy and medications, with your child’s doctor. Children with ADHD may qualify for modifications to classroom expectations to help them succeed academically. At home, a structured routine with positive reinforcement for good behavior can be helpful.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275/.
Medline Plus. (2010). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001551.htm.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2008). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml.
National Resource Center on ADHD. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.help4adhd.org/faqs.cfm.