By Adamos Chatzipanagis, paediatrician
It is estimated that this disorder affects about 3-5% of school-age children. It is more common in boys (3-4 times).
What is its cause?
No one from the environment of the child (neither parents, nor teachers) is to blame for this condition, and it is most likely that the child is born with this problem (a disorder that is inherited). Research shows that these children have low dopamine levels in the brain.
At which age is it manifested?
Suspicion of the disease arises when the child starts growing up and manifests the characteristic symptoms, usually during school age.
Which are the characteristic symptoms?
The main symptoms are attention deficit, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
The child fails to concentrate in a game or a specific work for much time. Many times he seems to not hear you when you talk to him, or he doesn’t follow the instructions you give.
• He fails to concentrate in details or makes careless mistakes.
• He has difficulty in remaining concentrated in a specific work for much time.
• He doesn’t seem to follow what you are saying.
• He has difficulty in organizing things around him.
• He avoids or has difficulty in participating in activities that require mental effort.
• He loses his things easily.
• He forgets very easily.
• He has difficulty in following instructions.
• He gets easily distracted.
Hyperactivity / Impulsive behavior
The child cannot sit in one place for a long time. He moves all the time. He may talk all the time.
He provides answers before the question is even completed. He keeps interrupting others.
• He has difficulty in remaining seated on a chair for a long time.
• When he sits, he moves his arms and legs all the time.
• He runs and climbs all the time in the house.
• He has difficulty in calmly participating in an activity.
• He acts as if he has a motor inside him.
• He talks incessantly.
• He answers before the question is completed.
• He has difficulty in waiting for his turn.
• He interrupts others when they talk.
How is the diagnosis made?
There is no test for the diagnosis of ADHD. When someone suspects the disorder, after the doctor first examines the child, then he should gather information from parents, teachers and anyone who gets in contact with the child for much time. The doctor will evaluate this information and at the same time he will exclude other conditions, which may cause symptoms that resemble ADHD.
How is it treated?
The treatment of ADHD is multilateral. It should be directed to the following areas:
1. Parent education.
2. Programs of intervention to the child’s behavior.
3. Compilation of an appropriate educational program.
4. Medication. The medications that are used for the treatment of children with ADHD do not cure the disorder. They improve the symptoms for as long as the effect of the medication lasts. The medications that are usually used belong in the following categories: A. Methylphenidate B. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine products Pharmaceutical companies circulate long-acting medications in both categories, i.e. medications, the action time of which is relatively long, and thus the medication can be administered once daily. Remember to always ask your paediatrician about the likely side effects and the exact dose of the medication.
What is the prognosis?
Children with ADHD are more likely to fail at school. About two thirds of the children will continue to have symptoms during adulthood. However, studies have proven that children who are treated in time with the appropriate multilateral treatment, have less problems at school, and only half of them present problems in their family and work.