Child ADHD: Definition and Treatment Options
Child ADHD is a common childhood brain disorder and can continue through adulthood. Commons symptoms are difficulty paying attention and staying focused, impulsive behavior and over activity. These can make it difficult for a child to get long with other children/adults, succeed at school, or complete tasks.
Diagnosis of child ADHD is made only after gathering information from various sources, including parents, schools, and caregivers. Physicians consider a child’s behavior in comparison to his or her peers and used a standardized scale to rate behaviors.
An accurate diagnosis requires a full physical exam, including hearing and vision screenings. A doctor may also perform a noninvasive scan that measures brain waves. The scan is approved for 6 to 17 year-olds and is used as part of a thorough psychological and medical exam.
Major life changes (such as a death in the family, divorce, or a recent school change), thyroid problems, sleep problems, seizures, depression, anxiety, and lead toxicity can cause symptoms which mimic child ADHD.
Many children with ADHD have the following symptoms:
- constant motion
- squirm and fidget
- lose things often
- make careless mistakes
- do not appear to listen
- distracted easily
Latest Treatment Options
There are two main treatments for child ADHD, which are medication and psychotherapy (for both child and parents). In the past, treatment focused on medication, but research has shown that medication only does not aid the long-term issues of ADHD. It is still used to relieve symptoms that impede daily function, but learning new skills helps a child who is living with the disorder.
The most common medicine prescribed for child ADHD is stimulants. These include Ritalin (methylphenidate) or Adderall (an amphetamine). Both are usually well-tolerated and act quickly after a child has taken them. They have few immediate side effects, but close monitoring must be done to by a physician if meds are used long term.
Psychotherapy is used to help the child talk about thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behavior. When children are younger, the therapy may include parents. Another type of psychotherapy is behavioral therapy that focuses on immediate issues. The goal is to help children monitor themselves and reward themselves for positive behavior such as stopping before reacting.