The symptoms of ADHD include:
- Feeling restless or fidgety
- Talking a lot and interrupting others
- Becoming easily distracted
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Saying or doing things without thinking
What causes ADHD?
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families.
Research has also identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD when compared with those without the condition.
Other factors suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:
- being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
- having a low birth weight
- smoking or alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy
- ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it’s more common in people with learning difficulties.
Prevalence of ADHD
About 2 to 5% of school age children can suffer from ADHD. Boys are more commonly affected than girls.
A young person suffering from ADHD needs treatment across all situations where the difficulties occur. This means support and help at home, school, with friends and community.
Firstly it is very important for the family, teachers, professionals to understand the young person’s condition and how it affects them. As they grow up, the young person themselves needs to be aware of their condition and how to manage it.
Teachers and parents may need to use behavioural management strategies like reward charts. Parents/family may find parent training programmes helpful, especially in managing the defiant behaviours which may arise from their hyperactivity.
At school, children may need specific educational support and plans to help with their daily work in classroom and also homework. They may also need help to build their confidence, develop their social skills.
What can CAMHS do to help:
A young person with symptoms of ADHD can be referred to a specialist to complete an ‘assessment’ and offer treatment
It is important that there is good communication between home, school and the professionals treating the young person to ensure that the ADHD symptoms are treated as well as possible, and that the child achieves their best potential.
Medications can play an important role in managing moderate to severe ADHD. Medications can help to reduce hyperactivity and improve concentration. The improved concentration gives the young person the opportunity and time to learn and practise new skills.
Young people often say that medication helps them to get on with people, to think more clearly, to understand things better and to feel more in control of themselves. Not all young people with ADHD will need medication.
Young people with ADHD may also have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders. It may be appropriate to consider a psychological support, such a cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy, to treat other mental health difficulties.
What can I/my carers do to help me:
For parents and carers, its helps to:
- Give simple instructions. Stand near them, look at them and tell them slowly and calmly what you want them to do, rather than shouting across the room.
- Praise your child when they have done what is required, however small it is.
- If needed, write a list of things to do and put it somewhere where it can be seen clearly (e.g. door of their room, bathroom).
- Break any task, like doing homework or sitting on dining table, to smaller time spans such as 15-20 minutes.
- Give them time and activities to spend their energy like basketball, swimming.
- Change their diet and avoid additives. There is some evidence about the effect of diet on some children. They may be sensitive to certain food additives and colourings. If parents notice that certain foods worsen hyperactivity, these may be avoided. It is best to discuss this with your doctor or specialist dietician.
- Many parents find it helpful to attend parenting programmes, irrespective of whether child is being treated for ADHD. Some areas offer parenting programmes and support groups specifically for parents of children with ADHD.
For young people, it helps to:
- Cut down on drugs and alcohol
- Limit screen time and sports in the evening
- Avoid taking stimulant medication (or caffeine) after 4pm
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a health balanced diet
Before coming to CAMHS, I was always getting into trouble at school for stupid things, and I didn’t know why. The team in CAMHS helped me understand my problems better, and supports have been put in place at school to help with my learning. My parents also understand things better, and we are all getting along better. The medication has helped a lot and allows me to think more clearly.