ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a behavioural disorder. Children with ADHD have problems paying attention, and controlling their impulsive behaviour. Not every child with these issues has ADHD. Having ADHD does not mean these children are not intelligent. According to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, three to five % of children have ADHD. ADHD can often be a co morbid condition of Autism.


Children with ADHD have three main behavioural issues. These are:

  1.  Poor attention spans (‘Attention deficit’)
  2.  Being very active (‘Hyperactive’)
  3.  Having impulsive behaviour

These symptoms need to be present in multiple areas of a child’s life (e.g. at home and school), not just at home. To outline it further, a child with ADHD has poor concentration. They will have difficulty focusing on tasks, meaning they are likely to leave projects unfinished when their attention span wanes. Children with ADHD are also prone to accidents, as they are impulsive and act before thinking through consequences. They’re also more likely to talk over other people or interrupt. These children are also ‘hyperactive’ – meaning they fidget, move around a lot and have difficulty sitting still. These symptoms need to be present for at least six months for a diagnosis of ADHD. Here is a useful checklist to help identify some ADHD symptoms. It is more common in boys. So far, there has been no single cause found for ADHD. However, preservatives, colours, anitoxidants and flavour enhancers are most commonly linked with Hyperactivity/ ADHD.


The first step towards managing ADHD is identifying the issue. If you are concerned about your child, see a qualified child psychologist, psychiatrist or behavioural paediatrician who can assess your child. Diagnosing ADHD is not as simple as doing a test. It requires in-depth analysis of your child’s past history, as well as their current behaviours. If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, there are multiple ways to help. Your child’s school should be informed of the diagnosis. Behavioural therapy with a psychologist is important.Medications, such as stimulant medication, can also play a role.Your doctor can talk to you further about this. Coping with a child who has ADHD can be challenging. Talk to your GP or psychologist for further behavioural strategies to help your child. Seek help from your doctor if you feel you are not coping with the stress of having a child with ADHD.

Reviewed by Dr Evelyn Lewin 23 February 2015 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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