Understanding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstance changes, such as when they start school

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstance changes, such as when they start school

Dr Sacrifice Chirisa Mental Health Matters
ATTENTION deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that includes inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstance changes, such as when they start school. Most cases of ADHD are diagnosed when children are between the ages of six to 12 years old. It is thought that around 2 percent to 5 percent of school-aged children may have ADHD.

The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but can sometimes continue into adulthood. People with ADHD may also have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders including Autism spectrum disorders discussed last week.

Many children go through phases where they are restless or inattentive; this is often a completely normal development and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD. However, you should consider raising your concerns with your child’s teacher; in some cases, their school’s special educational teacher may think your child’s behaviour may be different to most children their age.

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families. Research has also identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to those who do not have the condition.

There are known risk factors including being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy), having a low birth weight, mothers smoking — alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy

The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into two types ADHD behavioural problems namely:


The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • Having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • Making careless mistakes — for example, in schoolwork
  • Appearing forgetful or losing things
  • Being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • Appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • Constantly changing activity or tasks
  • Having difficulty organising tasks
  • Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • Constantly fidgeting
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Excessive talking
  • Being unable to wait their turn
  • Acting without thinking
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Little or no sense of danger

Some children will have inattentiveness, but not hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD).

This can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious. Symptoms are usually noticeable before the age of six. They occur in more than one situation, such as at home, church and at school.

These symptoms can cause significant problems in a child’s life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.

The take home message is that early treatment is vital to prevent disruptions of the child life. One final appeal to the higher powers is to make medicines for these children accessible and available at all times.

This column contains information about mental health related issues. However, the information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. The writer accepts no responsibility for misuse and misrepresentation caused by the use or misunderstanding of this article. No warranties or assurances are made in relation to the safety and content of this article and attachments. Sender accepts no liability for any damage caused by or contained in any attachments. No liability is accepted for any consequences arising from this article.

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