Who has ADHD?Researchers are not sure why ADHD affects more boys than girls. Although girls and boys have the same symptoms, boys are more commonly referred and diagnosed.
Studies done in rural areas and foreign countries-such as New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Great Britain -show that fully four percent of all school-age children will meet the diagnostic criteria for this disorder. Hyperactivity is the most common reason for the children to be referred to mental health clinics across the United States.
Not Just a Childhood DiseaseSome children outgrow ADHD while others do not. In the 1980s, researchers followed children through young adulthood and found that many of the symptoms persisted. Studies show that 60 percent of hyperactive children will have the problem as adults, and there is no way to predict which children will outgrow the symptoms.
Signs and SymptomsWhat are the signs and symptoms of the disorder? Earlier, we mentioned that excessive fidgeting is a sign. Other symptoms frequently include: Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities, shifting from one uncompleted activity to another, difficulty playing quietly, talking excessively, interrupting or intruding on others, appearing not to listen to what is being said, losing things, difficulty in remaining seated, being easily distracted, difficulty waiting their turn or participating in group situations, blurting out answers to questions and interrupting, difficulty following instructions.
These are all common very common problems of young children. Most children will have two or three of these problems at some point. The key to a diagnosis of ADHD, however, is where a child has many symptoms, year after year, in many symptoms such as home, school, camp, or day care. Often the child's behavior is causing negative from people, and his or her self-esteem suffers. A child who has for several years had major difficulties in at least eight of these symptom areas many not be hyperactive. Other disorders - like depression and anxiety - have very similar symptoms and can easily be confused with ADHD.
DiagnosisTo ensure proper diagnosis, medical professionals should:
- Spend a significant amount of time obtaining a detailed history of the child from the parent(s) or guardian;
- Look for learning disabilities;
- Determine if there are environmental factors causing the problem.
School report cards are among the materials that should be carefully reviewed by medical professionals before a diagnosis is made. Often ADHD children's report cards contain comments such as, "Johnny is unattentive; he is not completing assignments; and he's out of his seat a lot." Additional information should also be obtained from babysitters, grandparents, and anyone else who spends time with the child. The doctor then synthesizes this information and makes diagnosis. It is equally important for doctors to spend time observing youngsters, preferably in an environment where the child feels comfortable - like a playroom. By spending time with youngsters, doctors can get a better feel for the true characteristics of their young patients. Direct observation in a strange setting, like the pediatrician's office is almost meaningless in making a diagnosis. For many years, pediatricians would watch a child for 15 minutes and say, "I don't see a problem". Youngsters' behaviors vary. Even an exceedingly hyperactive child can do well for an hour in a setting, particularly if it's one-on-one.