For a doctor to diagnose ADHD in children, they must review school records and questionnaires completed by the child’s teachers and caretakers. They will also talk with the child and observe their behavior, using rating scales to compare it to typical behaviors. They will do a physical exam and may recommend lab tests to rule out other health problems.
A person with ADHD may have trouble following directions or keeping track of tasks. They are more likely to miss deadlines at work or school and get into trouble with their parents or teachers. They may be impulsive, blurting out answers in class without waiting to hear the question or starting on the next assignment before finishing the first one. They have trouble reading social cues and often find it difficult to keep their emotions in check.
On the other hand, a person with ADHD can have tremendous creativity. The child who daydreams and has ten thoughts at once might become a master problem-solver or inventive artist.
The frontal lobe of the brain is underdeveloped in children with ADHD. That is why they struggle with change, planning, long-term memory and reading social cues. It’s also why they can have a tendency to take risks and be more prone to addiction. When a teen with ADHD tries cocaine or alcohol, it can be harder for her to stop because the frontal lobe isn’t as developed.
People with ADHD have different treatment plans. For some, medication is necessary for symptom control. For others, lifestyle changes and therapy are sufficient. There are also natural medications that help reduce symptoms for some people. Regardless of what type of treatment is used, it’s important for family members to set clear boundaries and provide support for the individual with ADHD. Punishment is rarely effective, but teaching a child or adult what they need to do and then rewarding good behavior can help manage symptoms.
There are also several types of non-pharmacological treatments for ADHD, including behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy. Many people with ADHD find that changing their diet, improving sleep habits and limiting screen time can also improve symptoms.
There is no known cause of ADHD, but researchers believe genes and environment both play a role. Some factors that have been linked to ADHD include low birth weight, smoking during pregnancy and exposure to toxins (such as lead, nicotine and alcohol) during pregnancy. People with ADHD also tend to have a higher risk of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. A person with these comorbid conditions should be treated by a doctor who has experience with them.