Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavior disorder. It is also called attention deficit disorder. It is often first diagnosed in childhood. There are 3 major types:
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown. But research suggests that it is genetic. It is a brain-based problem. Children with ADHD have low levels of a brain chemical (dopamine). Studies show that brain metabolism in children with ADHD is lower in the parts of the brain that control attention, social judgment, and movement.
ADHD tends to run in families. Many parents of children with ADHD had symptoms of ADHD when they were younger. The condition is often found in brothers and sisters within the same family. Boys are more likely to have ADHD of the hyperactive or combined type than girls.
Other things that may raise the risk include:
Each child with ADHD may have different symptoms. He or she may have trouble paying attention. A child may also be impulsive and hyperactive. These symptoms most often happen together. But one may happen without the others.
Below are the most common symptoms of ADHD.
These symptoms may look like other health or behavior problems. Keep in mind that many of these symptoms may happen in children and teens who don’t have ADHD. A key part in diagnosis is that the symptoms must greatly affect how the child functions at home and in school. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
A pediatrician, child psychiatrist, or a mental health expert may diagnose ADHD. To do so, he or she will talk with parents and teachers and watch the child’s behavior. Diagnosis also depends on results from physical, nervous system, and mental health testing. Certain tests may be used to rule out other health problems. Others may check thinking skills and certain skill sets.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment for ADHD may include:
Experts don’t know how to prevent ADHD in children. But spotting and treating it early can lessen symptoms and enhance your child’s normal development. It can also improve your child’s quality of life.
Here are things you can do to help your child:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider: