Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

It’s not unusual for children to be very active, act impulsively or find it hard to pay attention sometimes. Most this is just part of a child’s personality and improves with age, and sometimes it is a reflection of the style of parenting.

But if the level of activity, inattentiveness and impulsiveness is severe and interferes with their learning and social relationships with peers and with adults, or is causing the child distress, then it can also be a sign of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a behavioural condition – it doesn’t mean your child is just being naughty.

The signs of ADHD in children can include:

  • overactivity – they have lots of energy and may have trouble sitting still even for activities they enjoy
  • impulsiveness – they may interrupt a lot, have trouble waiting their turn or do things without thinking
  • inattention – they’re easily distracted and have trouble concentrating or listening to instructions or focusing on schoolwork.

These behaviours are all common in children. It is the extent and the impact that these behaviours have on a child’s day-to-day functioning which suggest that there may be ADHD present. It is always important to check whether the behaviour might be caused by other problems, such as anxiety, learning or hearing difficulties.

Children may have more trouble in one or two of these areas than the others.

Some children seem to grow out of ADHD, but many will still have it as adults.

It’s important to manage ADHD so that your child can learn and do well at school, and develop healthy peer relationships. There are medicines and parenting techniques that can help you and your child control their ADHD.

If you think your child may have ADHD, talk to your GP or other health professional, or your child’s teacher.

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