What is ADHD in Children?
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common yet treatable condition in children that is still being studied today. It affects certain areas of the brain that involve concentration, impulse control and even the ability to empathize with others.
Children with this condition are often misunderstood and are thought to be “bad, lazy, or stupid.” Although ADHD is not strictly a learning disability, problems with learning do occur. And while learning disabilities are common in ADHD children, not all children with learning disorders have ADHD.
Young ADHD sufferers have difficulty learning because they are easily distracted and thus unable to stay focused for long periods. They have a tendency to daydream and are slow in completing tasks. Other symptoms include:
- Tendency to be aggressive
- Fidgety and restless
- Compulsive and impulsive talking, sometimes prone to interrupt others
- Is impatient and has difficulty waiting in line or being kept seated
- Will run around, climb, or cause disruptions
- Has difficulty following instructions and participating in group activities
There are those who perceive that the conditions above show the characteristic behavior of some normal children who are naturally naughtier and more inquisitive than others. However, it becomes a cause for concern if schoolwork or friendships are affected in a major way.
ADHD is also not that easy to diagnose or assess, as similar symptoms are exhibited by children with existing psychological or health related problems, such as death in the family, depression, diet, or poor sleeping habits. To provide some clarity to the issue, the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) considers it necessary that the following conditions must be present:
- Behavior must be apparent before the age of 7
- The symptoms must continue for at least 6 months
- They should be so severe as to affect at least two areas of the child’s life: in the classroom, in the playground, in social settings, in the community, and in the home
The causes of ADHD are vague, although most specialists believe that the condition is more a biological than an environmental one. There are, in fact, contributing factors which provide a more concrete explanation of the disease:
- Heredity and Genetics – it runs in the blood
- Chemical imbalance – a shortage of chemicals in key areas of the brain that are crucial to thought organization and suppressing hyperactivity
- Brain changes – the region in the brain that controls attention is not as active in youngsters with ADHD compared with children without the disease.
This helps to ease the feelings of guilt that many parents experience, and should definitely encourage them to give the help, guidance, and understanding that children with ADHD seriously need. Guidance counselors, teachers and the public education system are also urged to contribute. If left untreated, this can go on to become ADHD in adults.
ADHD in children is measured in degrees, and there are prescription drugs available in certain cases. However, medications often treat the symptoms but not the underlying cause. Additionally, complications are inevitable with long term use, not to mention the possible side effects that can occur even when applied temporarily. Therefore, it is important to take careful consideration when employing traditional treatments, especially since you’re dealing with a young child.
There are of course natural remedies that you can make use of. Aside from the support that parents and the community can give, a simple change in diet, sleep and routine can help. Likewise, exercise and therapy, specifically relaxation therapy and meditation or yoga, can be extremely beneficial.
Herbal remedies are available as well. Studies have shown that some agents, such as Ginkgo biloba, oral flower essence, Panax ginseng and melatonin may be favorable for children with ADHD. Herbal remedies are natural and therefore have no side effects, and they can aid in promoting the child’s health and his brain’s systemic balance.