To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must have 6 or more symptoms of inattentiveness or 6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. These symptoms must have been present for at least 6 months, and the child must have started to show symptoms before the age of 12. ADHD can be diagnosed in children as young as 4 years old.
The symptoms of ADHD can be categorised into 2 types of behavioural problems: inattentiveness and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Symptoms of inattentiveness include difficulty concentrating and focusing, trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities, and avoidance or reluctance to do tasks that require mental effort. Symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity include being in constant motion, running or climbing with no apparent goal, and interrupting or intruding on others.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms must have been present before age 12 years. Additionally, symptoms must be present in two or more settings and interfere with social, school, or work functioning. The symptoms must not be better explained by another mental disorder, and the presentation may change over time.
A complete assessment for ADHD involves several purposes. It helps to find out if a child has the kinds of symptoms that indicate ADHD, whether the symptoms are severe enough to require a diagnosis, and if there are no different conditions that explain the symptoms better. It also helps to understand whether the child has more than one condition at the same time. Healthcare providers or ADHD specialists will ask about symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity to make a diagnosis.
Other conditions can share similar symptoms with ADHD, making diagnosis challenging. These conditions include anxiety disorders, depression, learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider or specialist can help distinguish between these conditions.
Treatment for ADHD typically involves a combination of medication and behavioural therapy. Medications such as stimulants can help reduce symptoms of inattentiveness and hyperactivity, while behavioural therapy can help improve social skills, organisational skills, and problem-solving abilities. Parent training and support groups can also help parents better understand and manage their child's behaviour.
If you suspect that your child has ADHD, it is important to seek professional help. We can provide a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment. The following organisations can also provide more information and support:CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)