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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the term used to describe a condition that includes several symptoms including impulsiveness, difficulties concentrating on one task, and hyperactivity. These symptoms also can just be personality traits of young children, we do all at times wonder how does a 5-year-old have so much energy, so many parents can find themselves asking “Does my child have ADHD?” It is good to have an understanding of ADHD and what to do if you feel your child has it.

A Brief Overview of ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are related but are very different conditions. Both are neurological disorders, but ADHD is defined by a consistent pattern of inattention AND hyperactive impulses that interferes with daily functioning in at least two settings, so for example, at school and home. ADHD impacts children and adults, boys and girls, and people of all backgrounds.

There are three types of ADHD:

Hyperactive/impulsive type – Children show both hyperactive and impulsive behaviour, but for the most part, they can pay attention.

Inattentive type – Formerly called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). These children are not overly active. They do not disrupt the classroom or other activities, so their symptoms might not be noticed.

Combined type (inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive) – Children with this type of ADHD show both categories of symptoms.

Most children who are diagnosed with ADHD display symptoms of the Combined type and this is the most common form of diagnosed ADHD. Children with ADHD show signs of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity in specific ways such as:

  • Are in constant motion
  • Squirm and fidget
  • Do not seem to listen
  • Have trouble playing quietly
  • Often talk excessively
  • Interrupt or intrude on others
  • Are easily distracted
  • Do not finish tasks

Children with ADHD may also struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age. However, some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms. But they can learn strategies to be successful.

While treatment won’t cure ADHD, it can help a great deal with the symptoms. Treatment usually involves medications and behavioural interventions. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in the outcome.

Typical developmental behaviour or ADHD?

Most healthy children are inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive at one time or another. It is typical for preschoolers (age 3-4years) to have short attention spans and be unable to stick with one activity for very long. Even in older children and teenagers, attention span often depends on the level of interest the child has in the activity they are doing.

The same is true of hyperactivity. Young children are naturally energetic and some children just naturally have a higher activity level than others do. Children should never be classified as having ADHD just because they come across as different from their friends or siblings, every child is an individual.

Where do I start?

Lots of parents will see these signs in their children but be unsure of whether it is ADHD or just child behaviour. If you are worried or concerned then a good starting point would be to speak to an adult who spends time regularly with your child, such as their teacher. You could ask them if they have any concerns about your child’s behaviour and how they interact with others. Your next step would then be to speak to your GP and then a paediatrician if it is deemed necessary. 

All clinicians at Oxford CBT are qualified in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, some are also Psychologists. Offering evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have a question please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.

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