Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder that makes it hard to focus, pay attention, and sit still. It often causes problems at school and home.
ADHD symptoms can be mild or severe. Certain places (like school) can make them worse, but they happen in at least two places.
ADHD starts in childhood, often by age 4
ADHD sometimes goes away as children get older, but many people keep having problems in adulthood
Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention and are very, very active (hyperactive)
Many children with ADHD also have learning disorders
Medicine often helps children with ADHD
Doctors aren't sure why a child gets ADHD. It's probably caused by problems with how the child's brain developed before birth. Less often, problems after birth cause ADHD.
It's important to know that ADHD is a brain problem and not just a behavior problem.
Children have a higher chance of having ADHD if they:
Signs of ADHD in children:
Compared to adults, all children have a little trouble paying attention and sitting still. However, children who have ADHD have a lot more trouble than other children. They have so much trouble that it's hard for them to do well in school.
Signs of trouble paying attention:
Signs of hyperactivity:
Signs of being impulsive:
Most children with ADHD become less hyperactive as they get older and are better able to cope. Most will grow up to be creative and productive adults. However, untreated ADHD can raise the chance of alcohol abuse, substance abuse, or suicide.
Yelling at or punishing your child doesn't help. Doctors will treat your child with:
Doctors and counselors can suggest things to help you and your child deal with ADHD. Things that often help include:
A child with ADHD may need special help at school. In the United States, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to provide free and appropriate education to children with ADHD.
Medicines for ADHD are drugs such as Ritalin®. Ritalin® and similar drugs actually stimulate the brain. You might think your child is already too stimulated. However, these medicines stimulate the parts of the brain that help your child pay attention.
Stimulant drugs can have side effects like:
To lessen the side effects, your doctor may suggest stopping medicine on weekends and during vacations.