ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorders, with an average age of onset of 7 years old. Boys are four times more likely to suffer with ADHD than girls.* The DSM-5 (an official diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals) states that approximately 5% of children and 2.5% of adults qualify for an ADHD diagnosis.
The three key elements in identifying ADHD in children are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. A diagnosis of inattention is given when an child meets six or more of the “inattention” criteria listed in the DSM-5, and diagnoses of hyperactivity and impulsivity similarly result when six or more of the DSM-5 criteria for “hyperactivity” and “impulsivity” are met. (In a “combined type” diagnosis, a child meets the criteria for both.) Symptoms of ADHD include, but are not limited to, becoming easily distracted, an inability to follow instructions, difficulty focusing on tasks, talking nonstop, being constantly in motion, impatience, and inappropriate social behavior. These symptoms often have a negative impact on the child’s quality of life and ability to interact effectively with the world around them.
The difference between ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, and ADHD is that children demonstrating symptoms of ADHD tend to have extremely high energy levels, to the point of hyperactivity, while children with ADD are often more reserved and less disruptive. They may zone out and appear to be daydreaming.
Treatments may include medication, psychotherapy or often, a combination of the two. The most well known types of medication for ADHD are stimulants such as Ritalin® or Adderall®; however, there are other medications approved to treat ADHD symptoms that are non-stimulants as well. Different forms of treatment work differently depending on the child.
If you suspect that your child may be suffering from ADD/ADHD or if you have a child who has already been diagnosed, you’ll find a wealth of resources, tests and information on MyHope, including help for adults who have the disorder as well.
* National Institute of Mental Health
The above summary by MyHope.