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Specialization Series: ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderADHD and autism are two of the most common neurological disorders that afflict children. According to a national parent survey conducted in 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 6.1 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. This means you have almost certainly heard of this chronic brain condition at least once. Although it is extremely common, many people do not understand what the term “ADHD” actually means or stands for. They just have a hazy idea that it is connected to hyperactivity and impaired concentration.

In this blog of our specialization series, we will discuss ADHD in detail, including what it means, common symptoms, and treatment options.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is an abbreviation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a common neurodevelopmental disorder in children that can result in symptoms such as distractibility, hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. It is also common for children with this neurological condition to feel anxious, depressed, lonely, or sad.

ADHD is more common in boys than girls and is typically diagnosed during the early years of schooling when a child exhibits the known symptoms. It also tends to present differently in boys than girls. Often times, girls go undiagnosed until middle or high school since. Though this neurological condition cannot be fully cured or prevented, recognizing its signs early in childhood might help children learn how to manage their symptoms and minimize the impact on their life. 

The symptoms of ADHD often take shape when the child is between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. Unfortunately, parents may not recognize the manifestations of this debilitating mental illness, or they erroneously associate them with disciplinary issues with their children — this is especially true when lack of attention is the primary symptom. As a result, diagnosis is prolonged, which can have severe consequences for the child’s academic and social life.

It is also important to keep in mind that ADHD symptoms are not always consistent. They can change over time. While hyperactivity-impulsivity is the most common symptom in young children, it is not the case for a school-aged child who may struggle with inattention. Other symptoms, such as fidgeting, may develop as a child grows older, but the primary symptoms may persist.

What are the causes of ADHD?

The primary causes of ADHD are unknown at this point, although researchers believe that genetics have a role in determining if a child will be diagnosed with this neurological condition. Other common causes of ADHD include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or craniocerebral trauma
  • Alcohol consumption or smoking during pregnancy
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature (or preterm) birth 
  • Early exposure to hazardous substances, such as lead

What are the different types of ADHD?

ADHD is classified into three categories:

1. Predominantly Inattentive

Due to difficulty focusing on anything, a child with this presentation of ADHD finds it difficult to complete the assigned task. Such a child may struggle to follow instructions, get easily distracted, forget important details, or stay disorganized.

Some of the most common symptoms of the ‘predominantly inattentive subtype’ include:

  • Difficulty focusing when playing, reading, or even talking with someone
  • A tendency to miss subtleties and make sloppy mistakes in school
  • Not listening carefully due to a lack of attention
  • Difficulty in adhering to the rules
  • Difficulty in following a task’s sequence and completing it in an organized manner
  • Problems with time management and meeting deadlines
  • Being easily distracted by sudden, trivial thoughts
  • Forgetting daily chores 

2. Predominantly Hyperactive 

As the name suggests, a child with this presentation of ADHD is highly active — they fidget and talk a lot. Such a child might struggle to sit quietly for an extended period, for example, when they are doing their homework or even eating dinner. They have a difficult time restraining themselves.

Because they are hyperactive, they may continually run, jump, or climb and feel extremely restless. A hyperactive child is also impulsive and prone to make decisions without much regard for the consequences. The ‘predominantly hyperactive subtype’ is distinguished by behaviors such as speaking at inopportune times, disturbing and interrupting others, and failing to listen to instructions. Furthermore, hyperactive children are unable to delay gratification and are impatient to be rewarded for their efforts right away.

The quintessential habits of a person suffering from this type of ADHD include:

  • Leaving their seats when everyone is expected to be seated
  • Running at inappropriate times
  • Being unable to engage in activities quietly
  • Talking excessively 
  • Having difficulty in waiting for the turn

3. Combined Type

Simply put, combined ADHD is when a child exhibits signs of both the subtypes mentioned above of ADHD: inattention and hyperactivity.

What is the recommended treatment for ADHD?

A licensed psychologist should conduct a psychological evaluation on a child before they receive ADHD treatment and are sent to mental health therapy sessions. Once it has been determined that a child has this neurological disorder, they can receive therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are two effective interventions for ADHD. While some ADHD patients use pharmaceutical drugs to improve their attention, some psychosocial interventions also can be effective in dealing with ADHD. 

DBT and CBT help children with ADHD by addressing troubling thoughts and behaviors. During the therapy sessions, the trained counselors teach patients several coping strategies to help them deal with unwelcome ideas and make positive behavioral adjustments. These strategies are intended to help the child become more organized and focused, as well as to help them navigate distractions and eliminate procrastination behaviors.

 

Cognitive Therapy ADHDCBT and DBT Sessions at RDU Counseling For Change

At RDU Counseling for Change, we offer individual, couples, and family therapy sessions for a wide variety of issues. If your child has ADHD, our RDU counselors are there to provide constant support and teach effective coping strategies. We also offer online therapy in Raleigh, NC. Your help is just a call away. Reach out to us today at (919) 713-0260 or write to us at .

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  • Kelly Harrison

    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)
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  • Whitney Chambers

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