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ADHD: Frequently Asked Questions

By Amanda McLean, Ph.D.

​​ADHD (Attention Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder) is a neuro genetic disorder that causes difficulties and deficits in self-control, or the ability to stop and think. Difficulties with self-control cause deficits in several areas including sustained attention and resistance to distraction, the ability to regulate activity level (hyperactivity), and the ability to stop one's immediate response to an event or situation (impulsivity).

What are the signs and symptoms?

Children with ADHD typically exhibit behavioral symptoms that impact their school and family functioning and peer relations. Common behavioral symptoms include:

  • ​Hyperactive and Impulsive Behavior: The child often makes snap shot decisions, does first thing that comes to mind, exhibits frequent interruptions, difficulties waiting his/her turn and difficulties remaining seated or still.
  • Inattentiveness: The child may have difficulties resisting distractions, staying on task, and paying attention. The child may also daydream, exhibit difficulties following through on tasks and assignments and make frequent careless mistakes such as losing and misplacing items.

When does the child begin to exhibit symptoms of ADHD?

Symptoms of ADHD typically become more apparent when the child enters into a more structured educational setting – especially for the subtypes associated with hyperactive and impulsive behavior. Individuals who have the predominantly inattentive ADHD may appear to develop attention problems in middle or later childhood. The vast majority of those with the disorder have had some symptoms since before the age of 13 and therefore, the disorder is believed to be one of childhood onset.

Management of ADHD

Many treatments exist to assist with management of ADHD. Important components of treatment include:

  • Education of the family and school staff about the nature of the disorder and its management.
  • Research supports the use of stimulant medication as well as behavior modification in managing symptoms of ADHD. Parent training in child behavior management methods and behavior modification can also improve management of ADHD symptoms in the settings that they occur.
  • It is important to remember that behavior modification treatment must be maintained over long periods of time in order to sustain the initial treatment effects.

What should I do if I suspect my child has ADHD?

If you are noticing that your child is exhibiting symptoms that interfere with their academic development, friendships, or family functions, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician and if your pediatrician suspects that your child may have symptoms of ADHD, it is helpful to obtain a referral to a psychologist so the child may receive a thorough assessment prior to initiating any treatment.