ADHD And What Should We Know

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood (CDC, 2023). In Canada, ADHD affects 5 to 9% of school children (CADDRA). ADHD is a single disorder that can manifest in a variety of presentations that may change over the courses of a child’s life. This complex genetic disorder runs in families and is characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. It can also be caused by some environmental factors, such as preterm birth, traumatic brain injuries, and environmental toxins.

Typically developing children can direct their attention to a subject and focus on it or shift away as needed. Children with ADHD have difficulty with this process. Their brains have more difficulty self-managing or regulating the attention.

What are some of the behaviours we see in children and teens with ADHD?

  • Difficulty regulating attention, focus and/or sustaining attention
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts to express themselves
  • Poor handwriting
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities
  • Disorganization
  • Last-minute task completion and missed deadlines
  • Impaired regulation of emotions
  • Poor initiation of tasks or procrastination
  • Inconsistent school performance or grades
  • Fidgety behaviour
  • Poor impulse control
  • High activity levels

ADHD symptoms are best recognized early so that intervention can be designed and implemented as soon as possible. Children can then be taught strategies that will allow them to benefit from the school curriculum and thrive at home and with peers. Untreated ADHD can lead to academic and social challenges and can be frustrating to both parents and students having an impact on family relations and child self-esteem and motivation.

A psychoeducational assessment allows psychologists to determine if a child has ADHD.

CDC. September 27, 2023. What is ADHD? Retrieved April 5, 2024

CADDRA. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved April 5, 2024.

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