ADHD is one of the most common learners barriers with research suggesting anywhere between 2 & 16% of the school-going population struggling with either the inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive or a combination of both symptoms. The diagnosis of any psychiatric disorder requires a comprehensive assessment and so parents should be weary of ‘specialists’ who are prepared to make a diagnosis via a short consultation. Rather, assessments should be based on careful observation and data gathering from the child’s parents AND school.
Many aspects need to be taken into account before a diagnosis is considered. Such as:
- Whether the symptoms actually interfere with functioning or development
- The length of time the symptoms have been present for (at least 6 months)
- The age at which symptoms first appeared
- Whether these symptoms occur in both the home and school and lastly
- Whether the symptoms are not better explained by another barrier to learning.
Some of the most common symptoms of ADHD (inattentive presentation – aka ADD) include a difficulty: sustaining attention, paying close attention to detail, following through with instructions, organizing tasks and activities, avoiding tasks such as homework and a tendency to become distracted by external stimuli and/or ones thoughts.
The hyperactive/impulsive presentation tends to see individuals fidgeting, or moving their body (often unaware that they are doing it), needing to move around frequently even when inappropriate to do so, often being in an almost manic state as if ‘driven by a motor’ and/or struggling to moderate behaviours.
ADHD also has a strong genetic component and tends to run in families. Research suggests that parents and siblings of a child with ADHD symptoms are more likely to have ADHD themselves.
These days with google at our fingertips it can be easy to make a self-diagnosis but working with ADHD is far more nuanced than than simply ticking a box of symptoms. It requires an intimate knowledge on the disorder (or gift as I like to call it) and therefore requires that care is taken when assessing. If you feel your child may have ADHD take the time to ensure the medical practitioner has an interest and history of working with ADHD.