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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that makes it hard for affected children to control their behaviour and pay attention. It is sometimes referred to as ADD (attention deficit disorder).

ADHD is an illness and can be treated.

ADHD usually becomes apparent in children in the preschool and early school years.

ADHD is not limited to childhood and often continues into adulthood.

What causes ADHD?

The exact cause for ADHD is unkown, but it tends to run in families.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

The principal characteristics of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

However, not everyone who is overly hyperactive, inattentive, or impulsive has ADHD. In fact, most "normal" children have trouble sitting still. And few children can sit through meals without tapping or fidgeting. So how do you know what is normal and what is ADHD? Only a doctor can tell you for certain.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

A paediatrician or child psychiatrist will be able to help with diagnosis.

In addition to finding out about your childs current and past behaviour (eg. reports from school teachers), the doctor will also want to look for other possible causes of the behaviour. Sometimes children who are dealing with divorce, death, or other problems may act in a way that looks like, but isn't, ADHD.

In addition to possible family problems as a causative factor, other factors must be ruled out as a cause for the child's behaviour. Such factors include: undetected seizures, a middle ear infection that is causing hearing problems, medical disorders that may affect brain functioning, underachievement caused by learning disability, and anxiety or depression.

Can ADHD be treated?

Yes. ADHD is an illness and can be treated:

- medication
- behaviour therapy

Medication and behaviour therapy are safe, proven to work, and are most effective when used together.


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