IS YOUR CHILD HEADED FOR ADDICTION?
Untreated ADHD has been known to be a major disruption to the normal development of children and has led to addiction issues later in life. The condition has largely gone unnoticed since most of the signs and symptoms can be termed or viewed as normal childhood adaptation mechanisms. By the time the symptoms start being disruptive, a child is viewed as a troublesome child and most go through life without getting any form of help.
Understanding this condition can save both the child and the parents the agony that come with leaving it untreated and if caught early, measures can be put in place for corrective action. If left untreated, addictions and a dysfunctional lifestyle in life are prone.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. In any six-month period, ADHD affects an estimated 4 -6 % of young people between the ages of 9 and 17. Boys are two to three times more likely than girls to develop ADHD. Although ADHD is usually associated with children, the disorder can persist into adulthood. Children and adults with ADHD are easily distracted by sights and sounds and other features of their environment, cannot concentrate for long periods of time, are restless and impulsive, or have a tendency to daydream and be slow to complete tasks
The three predominant symptoms of ADHD are
1) Inability to regulate activity level (hyperactivity);
2) Inability to attend to tasks (inattention);
3) Impulsivity, or inability to inhibit behavior
Common symptoms include varying degrees of the following:
- Increased activity – always on the go
- Poor concentration and brief attention span
- Impulsive – doesn’t stop to think
- Social and relationship problems
- Fearless and takes undue risks
- Poor coordination
- Sleep problems
- Normal or high intelligence but under perform at school.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF INATTENTION?
A child who has difficulty keeping their mind on a task, or who gets bored of a task easily
A child who jumps from one task to another without completing the first task
A child who is easily distracted or doesn’t follow instructions carefully.
A child who forgets and loses things that they need to complete a task.
A child who can’t seem to sit still and who is constantly moving, roaming, touching things, squirming or fidgeting.
WHAT DOES IMPULSIVITY LOOK LIKE
A child who speaks or acts without thinking about the consequences of that act.
A child who blurts out inappropriate comments, has difficulty waiting their turn, and displays their emotions without restraint.
ADHD and Delayed Development;
Studies using brain imaging have shown that children with ADHD have a delayed brain maturation by about 3 years . The delay is most pronounced in brain regions involved in thinking, attention, focus and planning.
Some of the most significant maturation delays are in the outermost layer of the brain, the cortex and in particular the frontal lobe of the cortex the corpus colosum, which is key for proper communications between the 2 hemispheres of the brain is also shown to have an abnormal growth pattern in children with ADHD, sensory processing disorders and dyslexia.
The parents and child should be educated with regard to the ways ADHD can affect learning, behaviour, self-esteem, social skills, and family function.
The clinician should set goals for the family to improve the child’s interpersonal relationships, develop study skills, and decrease disruptive behaviours.
Behaviourally Oriented Treatments :
The goal of such treatment is for the clinician to identify targeted behaviours that cause impairment in the child’s life (disruptive behaviour, difficulty in completing homework, failure to obey home or school rules).
The clinician should guide the parents and teachers in implementing rules, consequences, and rewards to encourage desired behaviours.
Behavioural interventions are only modestly successful at improving behaviour, but they may be particularly useful for children with complex comorbidities and family stressors, when combined with medication.
Medications have been used to treat ADHD for decades.
Stimulants (like methylphenidate or “Ritalin”) seem to be the most effective class of medication, and are usually considered quite safe.
They do not make children feel “high” and there is no evidence that stimulants (when used for the treatment of ADHD) cause drug abuse or dependence.
The most intensive ADHD treatment study to date found that long-term management with medication or a combination treatment of medication and behavioral treatment are superior to behavioral treatments alone.
Although medication works well for many children, it can cause undesirable side effects in others, making it an unacceptable treatment.
Each child’s needs and personal history must be carefully considered by a qualified Psychiatrist before any medication is administered.