Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder. It is one of the most common childhood disorders and is estimated to affect between 5 and 7% of school-aged children. Compared to other children at a similar developmental stage, children with ADHD may experience, with greater severity, persistent inattention patterns and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. ADHD is also often comorbid with other psychiatric disorders and disabilities.
Getting an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan for ADHD is crucial because it has the potential to significantly impact education and disrupt family life. ADHD is often multimodally managed through nonpharmacological and where appropriate, pharmacological treatments. This management plan should have clear goals and be made in collaboration with your doctor, the child, family or carers, and teachers.
To diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a thorough evaluation is necessary, utilising information corroborated by teachers, family members, and/or caregivers. This assessment should span medical, developmental, and psychosocial evaluations. Things that are highlighted in the ADHD criteria involve symptoms for at least six months before the age of 12 and causing significant interference in at least two settings. It is also important to rule out other psychiatric disorders that may impair social and academic functioning.
Just one or both inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsiveness symptoms may be displayed in your child’s behaviour. Common signs of ADHD in children are:
Short attention span
Difficulties with instructions
Unable to stay still and fidgeting
Acting without forethought
May appear forgetful
May lose things easily
If you suspect your child has undiagnosed ADHD or is struggling in school, please call our lovely team at Medsana to book your initial assessment with a GP.
In the management of ADHD, nonpharmacological tools are implemented as one aspect of your child’s individualised treatment plan. This might include psychoeducation for you and your child to build a skill set used in social and cognitive settings. It is also recommended that you maintain a close rapport with the school staff so that they are able to provide additional help and monitor the effectiveness of your child’s treatment. It would be beneficial to develop strategies with the teacher to manage behaviours within the classroom such as the implementation of expectations, rules, or a daily report card.
Our doctors at Medsana can connect you to relevant support groups and community organisations.
Resources that you might also find useful for ADHD include:
Kids Helpline (1800 551 800)
Lifeline (13 11 14)
Pharmacotherapy may be added to your ADHD management plan as a second option to the nonpharmacological route. The prescription of pharmacotherapy is dependent on age and should be authorised by a clinician experienced in the use of psychotropics in children.
Before starting pharmacotherapy, your doctor will take baseline measurements to monitor for any adverse side effects associated with the use of medications. This might include heart rate, height, weight, blood pressure and parameters. While there are a number of available drugs used for the treatment of ADHD in children, some may work better in different situations. In the development of the treatment plan, your clinician will go through the options and may be able to identify the medication that is more effective in addressing your child’s ADHD symptoms.