ADHD in Children

ADHD in Children

Table of Contents

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD) is a typically life-long disorder. There are millions of children with ADHD. It’s frequently characterized by an extremely short-attention-span coupled with impulse control issues and an abundance of energy.

Neurodevelopmental Disorder

The exact cause of ADHD is still being studied, but the general medical consensus is that it’s caused by genetics or disruptions in the central nervous system and/or function of neurotransmitters during important developmental phases. These disruptions often occur during pregnancy. ADHD is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder due to its suspected causes and the corresponding effects on the brain.

Executive Functioning

The executive function is a process that occurs in the frontal lobe of the brain. It’s responsible for the management of long-term goals, attention span, open thinking, and organization. Children with ADHD often have a reduced capacity for executive functioning. However, though it’s possible to have a diminished executive function without having ADHD, the reverse of this is rarely true.

Learning Disability

Children with ADHD often need learning supports because of their condition. ADHD makes it difficult to focus, learn, and retain new information. Because of the changes caused by their neurodevelopmental disorder and information transmitters, frontal lobe capabilities, and lack of patience from some teachers; learning can be especially difficult.

Studies have shown that many children with learning disabilities possess average or above-average intelligence which can add to the frustration of scholastic failure.

ADHD in Children

ADHD in children is widely studied as a medical condition on a global scale. Here’s the ADHD statistics that studies have revealed:

  • Over 6 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD
  • Boys are approximately 8% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD
  • Over 63% of children have ADHD and another mental disorder
  • Approximately 70% of children treat their ADHD with medication
  • 45% of children with ADHD have a learning disability

ADHD statistics and knowledge change as medical science continues to study these neurodevelopmental disorders. Additionally, ADHD is often overlooked as a pure behavior issue and due to limited access to healthcare in certain regions, some children remain undiagnosed and untreated.

ADHD vs. ADD vs. Autism

ADD vs ADHD

Attention Deficit Disorder doesn’t drastically differ from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The only clinical difference being the change in energy levels. As medical science progresses, these two conditions are becoming rapidly synonymous. Currently, ADD is considered an incorrect term. The correct term for the fusion of the two is Inattentive ADHD. The treatment for the two differs only slightly and require a medical diagnosis for treatment.

ADHD vs Autism

On the surface signs of ADHD and autism are similar. They both result in low attention spans, have impulse control issues, learning disabilities, and a hard time building and maintaining relationships. Typically, the differences are nuanced. For example, ADHD signs in a child will include enjoying activities that require little to no focus for them. Whereas a child with autism simply prefers to focus on things that interest them.

What’s more, ADHD causes a dislike for repetition as it can be boring. But children with autism thrive in repetitive, schedule focused environments. It’s worth noting that it takes medical training and expertise to properly diagnoses the difference.

ADHD Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of ADHD can vary between genders and at times go overlooked. However, there are 3 main symptoms that any child with ADHD would exhibit.

Short-Attention Span

Having a short attention span is more than frantic behavior or severe bouts of boredom. It can also create an inability to accomplish long-term goals due to rapidly declining interest and motivation. It can also be characterized by seemingly incoherent speech or difficulty expressing emotions.

Lack of Impulse Control

This is characterized by poor, unthought out decision making, and difficulty understanding the long-term effects of an action. Impulsivity can place children with ADHD in dangerous situations such as running away, unprotected sex, and class disruption.

Hyper-Activity

Hyper-activity can result in fidgeting, jumping, or a general inability to remain still. This trait can cause mental and physical exhaustion in parents and teachers around children with ADHD. This trait can cause an adolescent to seem over the top or attention-seeking. This can, in some cases, lead to poor self-esteem and social anxiety.

ADHD Signs

It can be difficult to accurately spot signs of ADHD as a child’s brain is constantly developing and may exhibit these signs naturally. ADHD signs differ between individuals, but the following signs are the most common:

  • Fidgeting
  • Continuous talking
  • Chronic boredom
  • Lack of focus
  • Lack of commitment
  • Little to no forethought
  • Aggressive or agitated behavior
  • Memory issues

Gender Differences

ADHD in Girls

It’s estimated that over 70% of girls that have ADHD go undiagnosed. This is the result of the cultural perception of ADHD and the differences in development between the two genders. For example, when a girl isn’t paying attention in class or has difficulty grasping a concept then typically, she’s treated harsher as opposed to trying to find the root cause of the difficulty.

Girls are also less likely to be disruptive in class, one of the more well-known noticeable traits of ADHD. Lastly, girls who are diagnosed with ADHD obtain said diagnoses approximately 5 years after their male counterparts. This means they receive less treatment during their developmental years which can result in severe long-term psychological consequences.

ADHD in Boys

On average, boys with ADHD symptoms are diagnosed with ADHD around age 7. Boys are diagnosed with ADHD 3 times more than girls. The most common reason that ADHD in boys goes undiagnosed is because of the belief that impulsive, aggressive behavior is simply, “boys being boys.” This can lead to unhealthy emotional reinforcement and create a psychological barrier between ADHD in boys and treatment.

ADHD and Depression

Symptoms of ADHD in children can cause low self-esteem, prolonged feelings of boredom, and loneliness which can result in severe depression. Studies have shown that ADHD can majorly worsen the effects of depression and that those with ADHD are more likely to develop depression. Furthermore, the combination of the two makes treating either depression or ADHD more difficult.

Since children with ADHD symptoms often possess above-average intelligence, the frustration for the inability to finish a long-term goal or build relationships becomes internalized. This assists in creating a negative self-image. It can take years of therapy to overcome these issues. It can also be difficult to medically treat both ADHD and depression due to the difference in treatment options and any corresponding side effects. This combination of ADHD and depression is common but may still require a specialist.

ADHD Medication

ADHD medication comes in 2 variants, Adderall and Ritalin. Either drug has its pros and cons.

Adderall

Adderall is the longer-lasting of the two. On average Adderall helps relieve ADHD symptoms for up to 12 hours. It’s commonly prescribed to school-aged children for just that reason. However, it takes approx. 1-2 hours to become effective. Adderall, like any prescription drug, can be abused. It’s important to monitor a child’s intake and clearly explain the consequences of taking too many.

Ritalin

Ritalin works for approx. 4 hours. But unlike Adderall, Ritalin can become effective within
30 minutes of consumption. Despite the shorter relief of ADHD symptoms, children are still prescribed Ritalin which is to be taken at key points during the day. Typically, either before school or mid-day, never both without express medical approval.

It is not advised to ever mix Adderall and Ritalin due to the compounding effect this would have on breathing and other organs. Lastly, it’s not advised to take either drug without a prescription.

Natural Remedies for ADHD

Even in moderation, it can be dangerous to mix natural treatments with medically professional options. Consult your doctor before administering these options to a child. In a stable environment, natural remedies can be used to bolster the effects of treatment for ADHD symptoms. Here are a few natural remedies for ADHD symptoms.

  • Passionflower
  • Ginseng
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Games/Puzzles
  • Art/Creative endeavors
  • Therapy

There is Help for Children with ADHD

ADHD is often a life-long condition but with the right treatment options and support system, it is more than manageable. If you think your child has ADHD, reach out to your local healthcare professional, and schedule an appointment for more information.

If You Have ADHD, You’re in Good Company

Many people with ADHD live full lives. In fact, many individuals with ADHD symptoms and who take their ADHD medication, have gone on to great success and some have even achieved a certain level of celebrity. Here are a few of the most famous people with ADHD:

  • Michael Phelps
  • Solange Knowles
  • Zoey Deschanel
  • Albert Einstein
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Shakira