What is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
ADHD is a developmental and behavioral disorder that may occur in children or adults. This condition may interfere with an individual's ability to regulate activity level (hyperactivity), control behavior (impulsivity), and attend to tasks (inattention) in developmentally appropriate ways.
What are some common symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD is characterized by the following three core symptoms:
- Inattention. People who are inattentive have a hard time keeping their mind on one thing. They may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. It may be difficult for these people to focus their attention on routine tasks.
- Hyperactivity. People who are hyperactive always seem to be in motion. They can't sit still; they may run around or talk constantly. They may roam around the room, squirm in their seats, wiggle their feet, touch everything, or fidget. They may feel intensely restless.
- Impulsivity. People who are overly impulsive do not seem to be able to curb their immediate reactions or think before they act. Their impulsivity may make it hard for them to wait for things they want.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
A trained clinician can make an accurate diagnosis of ADHD following an extensive evaluation. The evaluation should include a detailed medical/family history, interviews with teachers and/or those who know the individual, and a complete physical examination.
Is there a simple test to diagnose ADHD?
No. Despite evidence that ADHD has a neurological basis, there is no single test that can be used to diagnose ADHD.
What causes ADHD?
ADHD does not have a known cause. It is a problem of the brain and nervous system. Studies of the brain and its functioning show that individuals with ADHD have a shortage of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that regulate behavior).
Will my child outgrow ADHD?
Not necessarily. Many children with ADHD also have ADHD in adulthood. It is now known that ADHD symptoms continue into adulthood for more than 50 percent of children with ADHD.
How can ADHD be treated?
A class of drugs called psychostimulants appears to be the most effective treatment for ADHD. These medicines, including methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), help users to focus their thoughts and ignore distractions. Stimulant medications are effective in 70 to 80 percent of patients. The nonstimulant drug atomoxetine (Strattera) was introduced in 2003.
Are there other conditions that may accompany ADHD in children?
Yes. Children with ADHD may have learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, or many other conditions along with ADHD.
How can I help my child who has ADHD succeed in school?
Children with ADHD may need help in organizing. Therefore, parents should encourage the child with ADHD to:
- Schedule . The child should have the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. The schedule should include homework time and playtime.
- Organize needed everyday items. The child should have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and school supplies.
- Use homework and notebook organizers. Stress the importance of having the child write down assignments and bring home needed books.
What strategies can help an adult with ADHD succeed in the workplace?
Some adults with ADHD have benefited from:
- Time-management training;
- Relaxation and stress management training;
- Occupational therapy to teach strategies for organizing home and work activities; and,
- Job coaching or mentoring to support better working relationships and improve on-the-job performance.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/1/2007…#11723