Living with ADHD

Do you or someone near you have these symptoms?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition to affect a person's behaviour.

People with ADHD can seem restless and may have trouble concentrating for long periods. They act impulsively and often get into trouble because of it.

Symptoms are normally noticed at an early age, most children are diagnosed between six and twelve. Although symptoms may improve in later life, some adults will continue to struggle. This can be especially true if they are not diagnosed until later life.

Causes of ADHD

There is no clear answer as the cause of ADHD. There is a strong genetic connection, however, this is complex, as it is not a single genetic fault, but can be over several.

Through research, differences have been seen in an ADHD brain. Brain scans have shown that certain areas of the brain are smaller and other areas larger.

It has also been suggested that some young people have an imbalance in the level of neurotransmitter in the brain or a chemical inefficiency.

Children who are more at risk of ADHD are those who were born prematurely; those who suffer from epilepsy or those who have had brain damage.

Symptoms of ADHD

These can be classified into two categories, inattentiveness and hyperactivity or impulsiveness. Most people will have a mix of symptoms across both categories. If a person does not have the hyperactivity, then they may be diagnosed with ADD instead.

When we look at those with inattentiveness, they often have very short attention spans. They can become easily distracted and go from one task to another in quick succession. They will appear as if they are not listening to you. They may also appear forgetful and unorganised.

With hyperactivity, they are unable to sit still. Young people I work with find it easier to do practical tasks that involve a lot of moving around the classroom. I will find them jobs such as fetching and carrying for me to keep them moving. These are the young people who are constantly fidgeting in class. Fidget toys do help with this. They are often excessive talkers and act without thinking. Many of them have no sense of danger.

Diagnosis of ADHD

If you believe that anyone in your family has ADHD then I would advise you, to talk to your doctor. If the young person is at school, then approach the school and see if they have noticed any of the signs.

The doctor will find out your symptoms, when they started and how they affect everyday life. You have to have shown the symptoms for at least six months to be referred to a specialist for diagnosis. The formal assessment will be carried out through a psychologist.

Treatment for ADHD

Treatment is carried out through two methods. The first is medication, but this is not a permanent solution. Some medication is taken every day and others are given on school days. Dietary supplements such as Omega 3 have resulted in huge improvements in ADHD. I advise all my parents to try this method before anything else, consult the doctor though if your child is on other medication.

Therapy is another method that is used. Psychoeducation is a discussion group, where you talk about coping strategies. Behaviour therapy and CBT can all help alleviate the symptoms.

Parenting Tips

Throughout, my years working with ADHD many tips can work to help ease the symptoms.

Plan your day and have a clear set of boundaries. Ensure that you remain positive, no matter how hard this can be sometimes. When you talk to people with ADHD make sure that the instructions are brief. The use of an incentive scheme can help young people engage in education. Exercise is important as it helps the young person burn off their excess energy. Healthy eating with a good range of vitamins and minerals can also be beneficial.

It is worth noting that for some young people who have ADHD, everything will work the opposite. For example, the medication that puts people to sleep may cause them to be hyperactive.

Living with and working with ADHD can be very exhausting, but extremely rewarding. Try to keep the person engaged in something they can do with their hands. Once you have a rhythm and find coping techniques everything will improve.