ADHD (Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder)

The most common behavioural disorder in children

ADHD affects one to two children out of every 100 and it is more common in boys than girls. ADHD can sometimes run in families. Symptoms usually become more apparent between the ages of three and seven years old, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between ADHD and normal childhood behaviour. Some children with ADHD are hyperactive, while others sit quietly, with their attention miles away. Children are affected in a variety of ways and to very different degrees. ADHD can cause difficulties at school, or home - but it is treatable.

What to do
If you are worried that your child might have ADHD then you should talk to your school nurse or your GP. If your GP thinks that your child may have ADHD you should also be offered an appointment with a specialist in ADHD. Your child should only be formally diagnosed with ADHD by a specialist.

A specialist will talk to you and your child about their difficulties to find out the best way to help. They will want to know about your child's physical health and if they have any other conditions. They will also ask about your child's home and school life, and you may be asked about your own emotional or mental health. With your permission, your specialist should contact your child's school and work out whether they need extra support. A special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at your school may talk to your child and help with their behaviour.

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD this doesn’t mean they cannot live a rewarding, happy and positive life. If your child does not have ADHD there may be other strategies and support available to help with their behaviour. You may be offered a place on a course to help parents with their child's behaviour.

Signs to look out for

  • They are restless or fidgety.

  • They may have a lot of energy.

  • They are disinterested in people.

  • They talk a lot and interrupt other people.

  • They may not be eager to communicate.

  • They may become easily distracted and find it hard to concentrate.

  • They may say or do things without thinking.

Symptoms of ADHD

If your child has ADHD they may find it difficult to concentrate on something for a long time, they may have a lot of energy and say or do things without thinking. It makes it difficult for them to control their behaviour. They may find it difficult to learn at school because of difficulties in concentrating for very long. High levels of anxiety in children are often a common feature and it is this feeling of anxiety that might be causing some of the behaviour that you may see in your child. Your child might be feeling anxious about something but is not able to tell you. In fact the way of communicating their anxiety is often through behaviour.