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ADHD in Children: What Parents Need to Know

Have you found yourself stretched to the limits of your patience 
by a child
 who simply won’t listen to your instructions?

Or do you find 
yourself hesitating to bring your fidgety child to social gatherings 
as you have been embarrassed before by unnecessary and even embarrassing comments uttered at the most inappropriate moments? It is easy to label such children as troublemakers and you may even be considering methods of punishing your child for his lack of discipline.

It could be time to take a step back and reflect on other possibilities. Your child could have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a developmental disorder that becomes noticeable in the preschool and early school years of children. For some, ADHD can persist into adulthood. The three main characteristics of ADHD in children are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

ADHD Categories & Causes

The characteristics may vary in different children, as there are three different categories of ADHD.

  • ADHD, Combined Type – children who display the symptoms of the three main characteristics listed above. 

  • ADHD, Primarily Inattentive Type – children who display inattention but not hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms. 

  • ADHD, Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive Type – children who display hyperactivity and impulsivity but not inattention symptoms.

While there is no one definite cause of ADHD, there are many different possible causes of the disorder.

According to Dr Nelson
Lee, the Medical Director and Psychiatrist from The Psychological Wellness Centre, the most agreed cause of ADHD is the genetic basis for the condition and it is often seen running in the family.

Other suggestions include complications at birth and the possibility of the child being deficient in Omega -3 (fatty acids). In addition, Dr Nelson shared that it has been estimated that ADHD affects three to five percent of children in Singapore.

Effects of ADHD
As children with ADHD are often inattentive in class, it may affect their academic performance. Due to this, they may find it a challenge to complete assignments in a timely manner and may feel inferior to their classmates.

“The lack of focus leads to difficulty in concentration which
in turn leads to the difficulty in remembering the information. It can also lead to careless mistakes in the work since there is a tendency to rush through worksheets and exams”, expressed Dr Nelson.

Besides learning, ADHD does affect other things that cause negative effects on the child’s behaviour and self-esteem due to the different labels the child has been associated with.

Diagnosing ADHD
Parents should understand
that while their child may
have symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has ADHD. Before visiting or consulting a psychiatrist, there are other conditions besides 
the symptoms that need to be confirmed.

“The child should exhibit six out of the nine symptoms of the three main characteristics of ADHD”, says Dr Nelson. In addition, the six symptoms have to be present for at least six months. There must be clear evidence of significant difficulty that the child is facing in two or more settings (in school, at home or with peers). Some of the hyperactive and impulsive symptoms should cause problems before the child is seven years old.

5 Useful Tips When Teaching Your ADHD Child
Teaching an ADHD child can be quite a challenge but here are some handy tips from Dr Nelson that can come in handy when you teach your child.

  • Break up the work assignments into smaller chunks and allow 
frequent breaks. 

  • Use colourful pictures, charts and diagrams to engage them in 
the learning. 

  • Set clear and simple rules and consequences for your child. 

  • Be sure to always have eye contact when teaching your child to 
get their full attention. 

  • The use of music, movements and hands-on activities 
enhances learning.