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Watch out for this disorder in kids

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is commonly diagnosed in school-age children and is characterised by symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity

IF a child shows symptoms like trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviour or be overly active most of the time, he may be suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), a neuro-developmental disorder that first starts in childhood and often lasts until adulthood. Certain precautions need to be taken, psychologists advise.

Dr Hamed al Sinawi, psychiatrist at Sultan Qaboos University, said that children with ADHD usually have symptoms such as excessive daydreaming, frequently forgetting or losing things, talking too much, making careless mistakes or taking unnecessary risks, while some children have difficulty resisting the temptation or waiting for their turn to speak or be served (e.g. at a restaurant) and have difficulty getting along with other people.

“Although some children have difficulty in focusing and behaving at one time or another, some children with ADHD have such symptoms most of the time, and it does not get better as they grow older; these symptoms cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends,” said Dr Al Sinawi, who is also the chairman and founder of Oman Alzheimer’s Society.

Symptoms of ADHD

Children with ADHD cannot stay focused on a task requiring mental effort for more than a few minutes. They often act impulsively, ignoring social rules and lashing out with hostility when frustrated.

“For a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms like hyper activeness, exhausting parents and teachers, irritating other children with their excessive motor activity must have appeared before the age of 7 as a persistent problem,” said Bindhu Ajith Kumar, a teacher of Indian School Al Seeb.

Boys are diagnosed about four times as often as girls. However, many girls with ADHD seem to be overlooked, either because their symptoms are less flagrant or because of a gender bias. A difficult, disruptive boy is likely to be referred for treatment.

Children with ADHD score 7 to 15 points lower than others on intelligence tests. They have less capacity to inhibit action in favour of their thoughts, resulting in a wide range of inadequacies in strategic thinking and impulsive disorganised behaviour.

Research confirms that children with ADHD do poorly on tasks requiring sustained attention, ignore irrelevant information, have difficulty with memory, planning, reasoning, and problem-solving in academic and social situations, and fail to manage frustration and intense emotion.

How to take care?

According to studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most effective treatment approach combines medication with the intervention that models and reinforces appropriate academic and social behaviour.

“Family intervention is also important. The inattentive, overactive children strain the parents and are patients who are likely to react punitively and inconsistently,” says Bindhu.

The incidence of ADHD is much higher in many communities. At times, children are overdiagnosed and unnecessarily medicated because their parents and teachers are impatient with inattentive, active behaviour that is within the normal range.

Adults with ADHD continue to need help in structuring their environments, regulating negative emotions, selecting appropriate careers and understanding their condition as a biological deficit rather than a character flaw, experts further said.


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