Five Minute Guides to ADHD

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Five Minute Guides

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a 'neurological disorder' meaning that those with it have brains that function differently to other children. It is a spectrum condition meaning that there is very large variance in the severity and range of symptoms presented by each person. ADHD is a life-long condition.

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How does ADHD affect a child?

A child with ADHD will have differences or needs in three broad areas:

inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness

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Poor concentration is often the most noticeable characteristic of ADHD individuals. This is particularly so when engaged in tasks that are less exciting, interesting or routine. ADHD children can:

Be easily distracted and have difficulty sustaining attention and focus on an activity

Appear not to listen and have difficulty following instructions

Struggle with organisation, misplace things and forget to bring things they need

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Many ADHD individuals are restless and are often described as 'constantly on the go'. They may:

Struggle in situations when they have to sit still and be quiet.

Constantly getting up and out of their seat

Fidgeting or squirming uncomfortably when sat

Appear to have excesses of energy and likes to run, climb and do sports

Talk excessively

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ADHD individuals are often described as 'acting without thinking' and 'risk takers'. They may:

Interrupt conversations and blurt out things they want to say

Struggle with turn taking - needing to go first and losing interest when it is not their turn

Appear 'fearless' and participate in riskier activities and sports

Take social risks - ADHD adolescents may be more likely to experiment with smoking, alcohol, drugs and sex.

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Inattentive sub-type

ADHD can present as mainly inattentive in some individuals and sometimes this is referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

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Sensory Needs

There is growing evidence that many ADHD individuals have differences in the way they process sensory information. For example, ADHD children who struggle with sitting tend to sense less from their vestibular and proprioceptive systems and need frequent little movements to 'boost the signal'. ADHD children are often easily distracted and this may be due increased sensitivity to sound, vision and touch.

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Why do children get ADHD?

ADHD can run in families and there is strong evidence that genes are involved. However, environmental factors can also increase the risk of developing ADHD: smoking during pregnancy, low birth weight, prematurity and exposure to pollutants such as lead. Other factors may contribute to increased likelihood of diagnosis such as being born at the end of academic year and socio-economic factors.

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ADHD and gender

ADHD is diagnosed in about 6 times as many boys as girls. However, girls are probably under represented due to differences in the way the condition presents in girls.

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Who can diagnose ADHD?

Diagnosis in children can be only made by a medical professional qualified in paediatric development. This is usually a specialist consultant doctor.

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How does ADHD get diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on observed behaviours. Questionnaires are often used to collate the observations of parents and any other professionals involved the child such as teachers at the school or nursery. There are internationally agreed criteria for diagnosing ADHD and evidence from observations will be used to determine whether this is the correct diagnosis. Diagnosis can be made at any age though there is an expectation that symptoms have been present from early childhood.

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What are the benefits of diagnosis?

A diagnosis can be helpful in explaining why a child is developing differently. It can help professionals, who work with the child, adapt their practice to be better able to meet the child's needs. Some specialist services are only available for children and their parents when there is a diagnosis.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Five Minute Guide to ADHD

A handy printable version of this five minute guide suitable for handing to parents, school staff and other professionals and carers. Use 2-sided printing (set printer to flip on short side) and fold in half to produce A5 leaflet.

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Got more than five minutes?

You may be interested to read more:


ADHD Girls

ADHD in Adolescents

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