Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent disorders in children and can carry over into their adulthood. It is a chronic disorder characterized by attention problems and hyperactivity. While it is most common in children it can also occur in adults. ADHD signs in adults are usually slightly different, such as restlessness rather than hyperactivity. There are three subtypes of the disorder:
ADHD symptoms are inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Inattention symptoms are being distracted easily, becoming easily confused, difficulty paying attention, difficulty completing tasks, difficulty processing information, and becoming bored after a few minutes. Impulsivity can include impatience, interrupting others, recklessness, and the inability to control emotions. Some signs of hyperactivity are fidgeting, and constantly moving or talking.
It is unknown what causes the disorder but it is most likely genetic. Scientists are also researching environmental factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol while pregnant, and lead exposure. Artificial coloring and preservatives may be also linked to hyperactivity. Just as there is no definitive cause of ADHD, there is no single test to determine if a person has the disorder. A doctor or other licensed professional must gather anecdotal information about behavior and environment. Then a doctor or mental health specialist must determine that no other health conditions or events are actually causing the symptoms.
While there is no cure, treatments for ADHD symptoms are available. Treatments include medication and therapy. Stimulants are commonly used to treat symptoms. While it seems counter-intuitive, stimulants can have a calming effect. For many, these types of medications improve attention and the ability to focus. The difficulty with managing the disorder is that there is no single course of treatment. Each patient’s reaction to medication differs and as such, children taking medication should be monitored closely and parents should work closely with doctors to work out the optimal treatment of symptoms for their child. Behavioral therapy can help teach children to be more organized, manage their emotions, and control their own behavior.
Some tips for parents of children with ADHD are to stay positive and stay organized. Parents should give immediate positive feedback for behavior they want to encourage and ignore undesirable behavior or redirect the child’s attention. Use positive reinforcement to guide behavior. Keep things organized. Create a schedule for routines and stick to it. Designate places for frequently used items such as toys and book bags. Give the child tools to stay organized, for example, notebooks to write things down in. Be consistent, not only with organizational systems but with rules as well. Diet and nutritional supplements may also aid in managing symptoms. Some studies show that zinc supplements can help with impulsivity and hyperactivity. Fish oil and evening primrose oil may improve mental skills and hyperactivity. A balanced diet can also help reduce symptoms, as well as eliminating foods with preservatives, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrites, and aspartame.
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