Treat ADHD sooner in school year

It's that time of year again. Summer's lazy days are behind us and everything is bustling with routine once again. Kids are back to the structured school schedule for another year.

For parents of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the school year may evoke some mixed feelings. Children with untreated ADHD often have a difficult time in a typical school setting and parents get feedback about excessive talking, inattentiveness, missed assignments and disruptive behaviour.

If all of this sounds familiar and you suspect your child may have ADHD but has never been diagnosed, it would be better to answer that question before this school year is too far advanced.

Since the learning pace only picks up as the year progresses, children who are having difficulty at the start of the year tend to fall farther and farther behind and it becomes increasingly difficult for them to catch up.

A good place to start is to speak with teachers about the behaviour and attentiveness of your child. If you believe there may be a problem, the next step is to ask your family doctor for information about ADHD. Your doctor should be able to give you some information and refer you to someone with experience in this area.

You should know that a diagnosis is not made lightly. There are specific criteria for ADHD and a knowledgeable professional will need to assess your child in order to determine if there is a disorder present.

Some of the primary characteristics of ADHD include distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity. These traits must be present from at least age seven, be excessive and long term and cause problems at school, home or social settings.

ADHD affects approximately 5 percent of children and is a chronic condition. In spite of what you may have heard, ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, too much sugar, dietary insufficiency or too much television. It is a disorder in brain function.

Although the exact causes of ADHD are unknown, we do know it has a strong genetic component and that it seems to affect dopamine transporters.

Treatment typically involves a combination of medication and cognitive behavioural counselling to help children and parents learn some techniques for managing symptoms.

For best results, consistency is important in treatment of ADHD. Medication schedules adhered to during the school year are best continued over the summer months and structure is also important even when on holidays.

With proper management, children with ADHD can be successful in school and social settings and can lead very happy, healthy lives. If you believe your child is struggling with symptoms of ADHD, don't delay seeking some professional help.


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