There has been a sharp increase in kids getting diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Many medical professionals believe that it existed in high percentages even before but the primary healthcare professional wasn't aware of it and hence did not refer the child to an expert. There are others who insist that the percentages are high because of overdiagnosis or wrong diagnostic criteria applied to high energy kids.
A host of factors including low birth weight, intake of alcohol or smoking in pregnancy, neglect and abuse, ingestion of toxic substances or food coloring , sustained and repetitive sensory bombardment by electronic gadgetry and media, lack of unstructured free play has been blamed. Whatever the cause, we are looking at ADHD and ADD in gigantic proportions.
So, as a parent what should we look for if we suspect our child of having the disorder? When should a parent seek professional help?
1. If your child shows activity levels higher than what is seen in kids of his age
2. If the increased activity is serving no purpose. Eg. Running from one student to another without a specific goal such as conversation or borrowing school supplies, instead just touching them.
3. Picking up everything they see to touch and play.
4. If the activity levels interfere in doing his developmental tasks such as Sitting down for dinner at a restaurant, reading a bed time book, making and sustaining peer level friendships.
5. If your child is easily distracted by the slightest sensory input in a very structured environment. E.g. Getting distracted by another child coughing during a structured activity in a classroom.
6. If he fidgets and squirms a lot.
7. If your child shows low impulse control. He/ she talks a lot, interrupts people and blurts inappropriate comments.
8. If your child has trouble controlling emotions.
9. Moves from one task to another without completing it
10. Has trouble with directions and multiple instructions.
If you see some of the these signs in your child, it is time to get an expert opinion. Because the sooner the diagnosis is made, the earlier you can start therapy and remediation. A combination of medication and therapy is prescribed for severe cases though most mild to moderate cases can be treated with behavior therapy, alone.