Dear Doctor: What is ADHD?

Dear Doctor: What is ADHD, and how do I know if my child has it?

Dear Reader: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a frequently diagnosed behavioral condition.  ADHD is a heterogeneous condition characterized by hyperactivity, attention deficit, and impulsivity that impairs academic, social and family function.

Causes of ADHD are developmental delays, history of mothers’ with pregnancy and birth complications, genetics factors strongly contribute to ADHD and brain damage.  Still, researchers have yet to discover a specific marker of biological vulnerability.

Symptoms of hyperactivity and attention deficit each are viewed as core characteristics of ADHD. Some of the symptoms to look for in your child may include:

  • Constantly moving or fidgeting
  • Trouble focusing and concentrating
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Unable to complete school work or chores
  • Trouble organizing tasks
  • Talks excessively
  • Often loses things
  • Unable to play by themselves or act impulsively by intruding noisily on others

Diagnosis of ADHD begins with your child seeing your family doctor or pediatrician.  If no other causes are present, specific diagnostic criteria for ADHD include:

  • Completion of Teacher & Parent NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment forms or Conner’s rating scale.
  • Observed behavior by either a mental health professional or pediatrician, and
  • A documented history of 6 months or more of consistent behavior concerns

Based on the types of symptoms, three kinds of ADHD can occur:

  • Combined Presentation: if both criterion (inattention) and (hyperactivity-impulsivity) were present for the past 6 months.
  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: if inattention is met but hyperactivity-impulsivity is not met for the past six months.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: if hyperactivity-impulsivity is met but inattention is not met for the past six months.

Treatment for ADHD may include:

  • Psychological treatment
  • Parental training
  • Change in classroom management
  • Behavior monitoring and reinforcement of appropriate behavior
  • Supportive classroom structure
  • Brief assignments
  • Immediate feedback
  • Task-focused style
  • Breaks for exercise
  • Medication Management
  • Additional non-drug treatment that has been shown to benefit some children may include meditation, music therapy, and learning to play a musical instrument, such as piano or violin.

Dr. Charoo Chouhan is a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist and sees patients ages 5-18 at UT Physicians Pediatric Center at Cinco Ranch located at 10450 Spring Green Blvd., Katy, TX 77494. To schedule an appointment, please call 713-486-5870.

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