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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by difficulty focusing and paying attention, along with difficulties in controlling behaviors, executive dysfunction and hyperactivity.

What are the different types?

Three types of ADHD include: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive and combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive. In order to be categorized as one the first two, six or more symptoms of either hyperactivity-impulsivity or inattention must be present with less than six of the other type. The combined form presents itself when there are six or more symptoms of inattention along with six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity.

What are the causes of ADHD?

Researchers are still unsure of what causes ADHD, but possible genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Neuroscientists are currently studying the neural underpinnings of ADHD using advanced imaging and molecular techniques.

How common is ADHD?

ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in children with a prevalence of 5 to 16 percent (males 9.2 percent, females 2.9 percent). Minority children are less likely to receive a diagnosis and less likely to take prescription medication.

What are some of the symptoms and signs of ADHD?

Children who have symptoms of inattention may be easily distracted, have difficulty focusing and organizing and may also exhibit difficulties in following instructions.

Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may fidget and squirm, find themselves in constant motion and have trouble doing quiet tasks or sitting still.

Children who have symptoms of impulsivity are often times very impatient; they have difficulty waiting their turn and may blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint and act without regard for consequences.

Symptoms of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities, socialization (pragmatic) disorder and tics may also be present.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

A physician or psychologist may use the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) practice guidelines, DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria and or parent/teacher questionnaires (DuPaul, Conners, Vanderbilt) to make a diagnosis and assess response to treatment. A diagnosis of ADHD does not always point to a cause. Further evaluation for causes of ADHD can be directed by a physician specialist.

How is ADHD treated?

Medications also known as "stimulants" are used to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Under the supervision of medical professionals these medications are considered safe. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also very useful in helping the child learn to focus and maintain proper behaviors while at home, in school and out in public. The child may benefit from environmental modifications in the home and school. Combining medication and environmental therapies can optimize a child’s function in society.

How we can help?

At the neurodevelopmental clinic at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, it is our goal for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to reach their potential and be successful in society.

For those interested in learning more, we would be happy to discuss ways that our team can help your child reach his/her potential. Please feel free to contact us.

Neurodevelopmental Clinic
Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu
1310 Punahou Street
Honolulu, HI 96826


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