Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

114. What is ADHD?

  • characterised by early onset (<5 years)
  • features noted at home/school/in consulting room i.e. in most situations
  • tendency to move from one activity to another without completing any one
  • disorganised, ill-regulated and excessive activity
  • often reckless, impulsive, prone to accidents
  • impaired concentration
  • unthinking breach of rules rather than deliberate defiance
  • relationships with adults are often socially disinhibited
  • often unpopular with other children and may become isolated
  • frequently associated specific delays in motor and language development and specific learning difficulties
  • secondary complications include low self-esteem and conduct disorders

115. The management may be behavioural alone (via Child/Adolescent Mental Health) or combined with medication.  Occasionally dietary manipulation is used.  These children need positive feedback and praise rather than persistent criticism for their disruptive behaviour.  Distractions need to be kept to a minimum.

Unfortunately no medication is curative, but it can provide a powerful effect on attention and motor over-activity for the duration of its prescription.  There is good evidence that drug treatment significantly and over the long term improves the outlook for these children.

The medication used more frequently is Methylphenidate (also known as Ritalin, Equasym, Concerta XL).

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