What is it?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) refers to a range of problem behaviours associated with poor attention span.
These may include impulsiveness, restlessness and hyperactivity, as well as inattentiveness, and often prevent children from learning and socialising well. ADHD is sometimes referred to as hyperkinetic disorder.
ADHD is a common behavioural disorder that affects an estimated 8% to 10% of school-age children. Boys are about three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with it, though it’s not yet understood why.
Children with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what’s expected of them but have trouble following through because they can’t sit still, pay attention, or attend to details.
Of course, all children (especially younger ones) act this way at times, particularly when they’re anxious or excited. But the difference with ADHD is that symptoms are present over a longer period of time and occur in different settings. They impair a child’s ability to function socially, academically, and at home.
A child must have exhibited at least six of the following symptoms for at least six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.
- Fails to pay close attention to detail or makes careless errors during work or play.
- Fails to finish tasks or sustain attention in play activities.
- Seems not to listen to what is said to him or her.
- Fails to follow through instructions or to finish homework or chores (not because of confrontational behaviour or failure to understand instructions).
- Disorganised about tasks and activities.
- Avoids tasks like homework that require sustained mental effort.
- Loses things necessary for certain tasks or activities, such as pencils, books or toys.
- Easily distracted.
- Forgetful in the course of daily activities.
A child must have exhibited at least three of the following symptoms for at least six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.
- Runs around or excessively climbs over things. (In adolescents or adults only feelings of restlessness may occur.)
- Unduly noisy in playing, or has difficulty in engaging in quiet leisure activities.
- Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected.
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms on seat.
At least one of the following symptoms must have persisted at least for six months to an extent that is unusual for their age and level of intelligence.
- Blurts out answers before the questions have been completed.
- Fails to wait in lines or await turns in games or group situations.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others, e.g. butts into others conversations or games.
- Talks excessively without appropriate response to social restraint.
Management techniques for parents and teachers
- Create a daily routine for the child, eg homework schedules, bedtime and mealtime routines.
- Be specific in your instructions to the child and make clear and reasonable requests, eg instead of telling the child to ‘behave’ suggest ‘play quietly with your Lego for 10 minutes’.
- Set clear and easily understood boundaries, eg how much TV they may watch, and that rudeness is unacceptable.
- Be consistent in the handling and managing of the child.
- Remove disturbing or disruptive elements from their daily routine. For example, remove siblings from the room when they are doing homework or turn off the TV.
- Use sanctions (eg loss of privileges, being sent to their room) for unacceptable behaviour or ‘overstepping’ of boundaries.
- Discuss your child with their school, nursery Madrasah and see if you can work together.
- Plan structured programmes aimed at gradually lengthening the child’s concentration span and ability to focus on tasks.
- Communicate with the child on a one-to-one basis and avoid addressing other children at the same time.
- Use rewards (eg stickers, tokens) consistently and frequently to reinforce appropriate behaviour such as listening to adults and concentrating