kids at play merry-go-roundNew Information from the FDA about how to recognise and treat ADHD is now available. to identify if you child has ADHD they suggest asking yourself:

Is your child in constant motion? Does he or she talk incessantly? Or have trouble focusing and prefer to daydream?

Then your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

This disorder often begins between the ages of 3 and 6 years, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). And it’s not just a childhood disease: ADHD may continue through the teenage years and into adulthood (see sidebar). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.

Three types of ADHD are recognized:

  • inattentive (trouble focusing, following instructions, and finishing tasks)
  • hyperactive-impulsive (constantly on the go, talking excessively, and interrupting others)
  • combined (symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity)

Diagnosing the Disorder

Studies show that the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 11.0% in 2011, according to the CDC. Tiffany R. Farchione, M.D., a child psychiatrist at FDA, reviews drugs to treat ADHD. She explains that the increase may be due to a greater public awareness of the disorder and psychiatric illnesses in general.

Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with the disorder. In addition, boys are more likely to have the hyperactive-impulsive type, which is easier to spot than the quieter child who is inattentive, says Farchione.

If you suspect your child might have ADHD, see your family doctor or pediatrician, suggests Farchione. Your child’s vision, hearing, and anything else that may contribute to inattention should also be checked. The doctor may diagnose ADHD or refer your child to a mental health specialist for evaluation.

Treatments

FDA has approved two types of medications’stimulants and non-stimulants’to help reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve functioning in children as young as 6 years.

It may seem counterintuitive, Farchione says, but despite their name, stimulants, which contain various forms of methylphenidate and amphetamine, actually have a calming effect on hyperactive children with ADHD. They are believed to increase brain levels of dopamine,a neurotransmitter associated with motivation, attention, and movement.

FDA has also approved three non-stimulants to treat the symptoms of ADHD: Strattera (atomoxetine), Intuniv (guanfacine), and Kapvay (clonidine). These provide a useful alternative for children who do not tolerate stimulants well. Talk with your health care professional about what medications may be best for your child.

In addition to medication, some children with ADHD receive behavioral therapy to help manage symptoms and provide added coping skills. Moreover, concerned parents can reach out to their children’s schools and community support groups for information and guidance on how to cope with ADHD behavior. It’s helpful to engage with the different individuals who are involved in a child’s life when managing the disorder, Farchione says.

source: FDA

More About ADHD:

Geraldine Jensen

Publisher and Editor of Families Online Magazine. Our experts provide warm, loving, and generous advice for you, your family and children, no matter their age -- infants, school age, 'tweens, and teenagers. Features include:Parenting, Ages and Stages of Child Development, Child Support, Cooking, Health, Children's Books, Nutrition, Christian Parenting, Relationships, Green-living, Education and School

Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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