mercredi 9 octobre 2013

Questions/answers dealing with attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity (ADHD)

What are the symptoms of attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity (ADHD)?

  • The child must display at least 6 attention deficit symptoms or 6 hyperactivity symptoms
  • The symptoms must persist for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with the child's developmental level
  • The symptoms must not be identifiable as due to another mental illness
  • The presence of the symptoms must significantly alter a variety of aspects of one's life (social, professional, school, etc.)
  • Finally, certain symptoms must be present before the age of 7.

A list of attention deficit symptoms follows:

  • Unable to pay attention to details, or makes careless mistakes on his/her school homework, work or other activities;
  • Often finds it difficult to maintain focus on the task at hand or during games;
  • Seems like he/she is not listening, when spoken to directly;
  • Does not conform to the rules and cannot complete his/her homework, house work or professional obligations (this is not due to difficult behavior, nor due to their incapacity to understand the rules);
  • Has a difficult time organizing his/her work or activities;
  • Avoids, is adverse to, or completes tasks against his/her wishes – ones that require sustained mental effort (like school work or homework);
  • Often loses his/her necessary tools to complete his/her work and/or activities (toys, workbooks, pencils, book or tools);
  • Is easily distracted by outside stimuli;
  • Is forgetful in his everyday life.

A list of hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms follows:

  • Fidgets with his/her hands or feet, or squirms in his/her seat;
  • Often gets up during class or in other situations that require him/her to be seated;
  • Runs or climbs everywhere, in situations where it is deemed inappropriate (for teens or adults, the symptom could be limited to feelings of subjective or inner restlessness);
  • Experiences difficulty remaining calm during play time;
  • Acts like he/she is "driven by a motor" or as though he/she is "mounted on springs"
  • Speaks too often.

Impulsivity

  • Blurts out the answer to a question which has not been finished;
  • Has difficulty waiting his/her turn;
  • Interrupts others and imposes his presence (i.e. cuts in on conversations or during play).

If your child presents many of these symptoms, we suggest that you speak with your doctor or consult a neuropsychologist.

I have many of the listed symptoms for ADHD, however I am an adult. Does ADHD also exist in adults?

Yes. It's possible to diagnose ADHD in adults regardless of age. However, with time, even though the motor hyperactivity seems to taper off, the inattention deficit and impulsivity remains present for adults. Determining a proper diagnosis, will allow the individual to adapt his/her work and life habits. Furthermore, having a diagnosis often allows the adult to better understand himself/herself and find answers to many of his/her personal questions.

My child does not have difficulty remaining calm; he does not constantly move and thus does not seem to be exhibiting any of the hyperactivity symptoms. Is it possible for him to still be diagnosed as having ADHD?

Yes. Hyperactivity is one element of the deficit; however, ADHD can present itself without hyperactivity. In such a case, it would be attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity. The child has difficulty concentrating, is often in a daze, may lose or forget personal items, etc.

Is ADHD a learning disability?

No, it is not a learning disability in itself. It is more of a neurological disorder which leads to difficulties with concentration and/or hyperactivity. These difficulties can, however, hinder and cause scholastic difficulties.

How can I determine whether or not my child exhibits true ADHD?

Most children present some signs of attention deficit or motor agitation and that is why it is important not to jump to conclusions too rapidly. Your family doctor is often able to tell whether the symptoms are due to ADHD. Furthermore, doctors often ask that a neuropsychological evaluation be done in order to establish a proper diagnosis.

During the neuropsychological evaluations, parents are asked to meet for an interview during which they are asked to complete a questionnaire. The child's primary teacher will be asked to complete it as well. The neuropsychologist will then spend several hours with the child in order to administer different neuropsychological tests which allow him/her to evaluate the child's abilities.

When should I have my child evaluated?

According to the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis, the child must demonstrate some of the difficulties before the age of seven. Parents often begin to see these signs at the young age of three. However, a child who does not exhibit hyperactivity, will often be diagnosed much later.

Although many of the symptoms arise at a young age, the majority of children are evaluated and diagnosed only once they have begun school and their academic results do not correspond to what is expected. We recommend that you have your children evaluated only once they have begun school and the symptoms seem important to you, and/or their academic results suffer.

What are the difficulties associated to ADHD?

Many ADHD children do experience academic difficulties; furthermore almost half of these children present oppositional or hostile behaviors towards authority. A lack of self-esteem is often reported. Finally, it is not rare to encounter symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. Thus it is important to intervene rapidly in relation to these children and to treat the variety of symptoms which present themselves. Psychotherapy consultation is also required at times.

My child has ADHD. Must he/she absolutely take medication or are there alternative solutions?

Medication is not the only option, yet scientific research suggests that there is an improvement of 50 to 70% in individuals who have ADHD and who take medication. For more information on these medications we recommend that you take a look at the following website: attentiondeficit-info.com

Many parents do not wish for their children to receive pharmacological treatment and thus will aim to put in place a variety of compensatory strategies, such as having the child sit at the front of the class, being given extra time during exams, and ensuring the rigorous use of their agenda and reminders, etc. Many health products are also available on the market and claim to have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms.

In all cases, in order to take an enlightened decision on treatment options, it is recommended that parents consult their family doctor.

If you wish to obtain more details pertaining to the neuropsychological evaluation services offered by our team, feel free to communicate with us.

Dr Anne-Karine Gauthier, Ph.D.
Neuropsychologist
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

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