Parents are distressed when they receive a note from school saying
that their child "won't listen to the teacher" or "causes trouble
in class." One possible reason for this kind of behavior is Attention-Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Even though the child with ADHD often wants to be a good student,
the impulsive behavior and difficulty paying attention in class
frequently interferes and causes problems. Teachers, parents, and
friends know that the child is "misbehaving" or "different" but
they may not be able to tell exactly what is wrong.
Any child may show inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, or
hyperactivity at times, but the child with ADHD shows these symptoms
and behaviors more frequently and severely than other children of
the same age or developmental level. ADHD occurs in 3-5% of school
age children. ADHD must begin before the age of seven and it can
continue into adulthood. ADHD runs in families with about 25% of
biological parents also having this medical condition.
A child with ADHD often shows some of the following:
- trouble paying attention
- inattention to details and makes careless mistakes
- easily distracted
- loses school supplies, forgets to turn in homework
- trouble finishing class work and homework
- trouble listening
- trouble following multiple adult commands
- blurts out answers
- fidgets or squirms
- leaves seat and runs about or climbs excessively
- seems "on the go"
- talks too much and has difficulty playing quietly
- interrupts or intrudes on others
A child presenting with ADHD symptoms must have a comprehensive
evaluation. A child with ADHD may have other psychiatric disorders
such as conduct disorder, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder,
or manic-depressive disorder. Without proper treatment, the child
may fall behind in schoolwork, and friendships may suffer. The child
experiences more failure than success and is criticized by teachers
and family who do not recognize a health problem.
Research clearly demonstrates that medication can be helpful. Stimulant
medication such as methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, and pemoline
can improve attention, focus, goal directed behavior, and organizational
skills. Other medications such as guanfacine, clonidine, and some
antidepressants may also be helpful.
Other treatment approaches may include cognitive-behavioral therapy,
social skills training, parent education, and modifications to the
child's education program. Behavioral therapy can help a child control
aggression, modulate social behavior, and be more productive. Cognitive
therapy can help a child build self esteem, reduce negative thoughts,
and improve problem solving skills. Parents can learn management
skills such as issuing instructions one step at a time rather than
issuing multiple requests at once. Education modifications can address
ADHD symptoms along with any coexisting learning disabilities.
A child who is diagnosed with ADHD and treated appropriately can
have a productive and successful life. If a child shows symptoms
and behaviors like those of ADHD, parents may ask their pediatrician
or family physician to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist,
who can diagnose and treat this medical condition.
Daycare.com would like to thank American Academy
of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for this information in striving
to make daycare and childcare a more productive and efficient service.
You can contact them at: 3615 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.
20016-3007 voice: 202-966-7300 fax: 202-966-2891.