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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex condition that affects each individual in different ways. Its effects vary with age, and it can change as people get older.
The term attention deficit disorder (ADD) is often used interchangeably with ADHD. However, since the release of the DSM-IV in 1994 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), the Attention Deficit Disorder Association lists the proper medical terminology as ADHD.
There are three general types of ADHD:
Because the symptoms are so different for everyone, properly recognizing and diagnosing ADHD can be a challenge.
Symptoms for ADHD often change with age.
It can be tough to recognize ADHD in young children—kids in this age range are naturally very active and have short attention spans, so it can be difficult to tell the difference between ADHD and normal child behavior.
In general, it’s the extreme nature these traits that identifies ADHD in children. Kids with ADHD have an extremely difficult time concentrating and may find it hard to keep still.
Children with hyperactive forms of ADHD often begin showing signs in elementary school. This is also the age when kids with ADHD are more noticeably different than other children—they often struggle with:
Many hyperactive cases of ADHD improve into the teen years, but other symptoms can arise. Concentration and time management nag at many teens with ADHD, and they may have more emotional health problems than the standard teen. They may be more impulsive or willing to take risks, and they may enjoy activities that take little work and offer immediate rewards, like video games.
Hyperactivity is usually less of a problem as patients with ADHD get older, but other symptoms affect people even well into adulthood:
No test exists to determine a straight “yes” or “no” confirmation of ADHD. A diagnosis of ADHD includes a detailed discussion of symptoms, and in children, an observation of the child for a time. To confirm the diagnosis, doctors may use some of the following:
Once a positive diagnosis has been made, most treatments use a combination of medication and therapy. It’s vital that anyone who plays a large role in the patient’s life is on the same page—parents, doctors, therapists and even teachers. Some of the treatments include:
If your child is exhibiting signs of ADHD, speak to your doctor about options for testing and diagnosis.
“How to Recognize ADHD Symptoms at Every Age.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/adhd-symptoms-age#1
“ADHD: The Facts.” Attention Deficit Disorder Association. https://add.org/adhd-facts/
“Understanding ADHD — Diagnosis and Treatment.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/understanding-adhd-treatment#1
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.