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Does my child have ADHD?

Is my child just badly behaved or does my child have ADHD? It’s usual for children to misbehave and be disruptive at times, but a child who is simply misbehaving can choose to be well behaved if they want to. A child with ADHD may want to behave but simply cannot help themselves.

ADHD is often misunderstood. It is a neuro-biological condition which can cause problems in life with relationships, learning, and behaviour. An individual with ADHD may have difficulty concentrating, act impulsively and have lots of energy. It affects children of all levels of intelligence – as well as adults. Those with the condition may find it difficult to fit in at school and have trouble sleeping. 60-80% of children with ADHD also have at least one other condition like anxiety, dyslexia, dyspraxia or social communication disorder. And, behavioural issues like disobedience and aggression can become worse as the individual ages if they don’t get the appropriate help.

Lucille Balcombe, Mental Health Nurse and CBT Therapist at The London Psychiatry Centre explains: ‘Although we don’t know exactly what causes ADHD, it is widely accepted that there is a genetic risk factor to the condition, and that it runs in families. It is also thought to be a result of chemicals and structural differences in the brain. Ultimately, if you are worried about your child’s behaviour or notice behaviour that isn’t usually seen in children of a similar age, it can be beneficial to seek medical advice to rule out any underlying conditions which may require treatment. ADHD can only be diagnosed once other conditions have been ruled out.’

ADHD myths

There are many common misconceptions about the condition as it’s not well understood. Below are four of the most common myths about ADHD:

Medication is the only treatment. Where possible ADHD should be treated in the first instance with psychological help before going on to medication. But additionally, at The London Psychiatry Centre we are the only clinic to provide External Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS) therapy. eTNS is a safe, drug-free, and non-invasive treatment for ADHD that is suitable for children and adults alike. This is the first non-invasive device approved for treatment of ADHD and in double blind studies it has achieved a 44% improvement in symptoms of ADHD.

Children with ADHD just need to try harder. It’s really common to hear that kids who have ADHD are just lazy and need to try harder, but the condition can make even simple tasks difficult and stressful for them. Their brain finds it difficult to stay focussed and keep track of what they are doing – especially when there are multiple steps or functions involved. Breaking down tasks into short, simple requests, one at a time, can help. For example: Lay the table. Put your toys away.

ADHD is a result of bad parenting. ADHD is a real neurobiological medical condition and there is no research to suggest ADHD is in any way linked to parenting style or behaviour.

Only boys have it. This is another common assumption which is incorrect. It’s true that ADHD is more commonly seen in boys, but girls can also have the condition. They are less likely to be hyperactive and so the condition is often not picked up as easily.

How do I know if my child has ADHD? Symptoms of ADHD in children

There is no test for ADHD but it is internationally recognised that to be diagnosed children must exhibit a number of symptoms across a range multiple situations (at home, school, in relationships).

You may start to notice the first signs of ADHD by preschool age. Most cases are diagnosed in children between six and 12, once they have started school and their behaviour can be more clearly seen as different from others.

There are three main types of symptoms children with ADHD display: Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Below we have broken down these into some signs you may have noticed in your child:

Hyperactivity:

  • Restlessness and fidgeting
  • Speaking loudly and quickly
  • Finds it difficult to be perform quiet activities

Inattention:

  • Finds it hard to pay attention at school or to complete homework
  • Easily distracted
  • Finds it difficult to organise things
  • Doesn’t seem to pay attention when being spoken to
  • Has difficulty following instructions

Impulsivity

  • Finds it hard to follow the rules
  • Struggles to wait in turn in group situations
  • Cannot wait for a break in conversation to respond
  • Interrupts others
  • Short attention span
  • Does not seem very aware of danger

I’m worried my child has ADHD. What do I do?

If you are concerned you child is displaying symptoms of ADHD, it is recommended to start keeping a record of behaviour; make a note of when it started, where it happens, if there have been any big changes or events in your child’s life.

In the first instance either speak to your GP or make an initial appointment with a specialist.

Your child will be in safe hands at The London Psychiatry Centre – we have an exceptional child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) team, made up of experienced child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and therapists. An initial consultation with one of our team (nurse, psychologist or psychiatrist) is offered and you may be asked to complete screening questionnaires. Then, if it looks like ADHD is likely, a full multidisciplinary assessment can be organised.

Diagnosis of ADHD requires careful consideration of early development, general health, family, social and environmental factors and symptoms. As such, the assessment may involve school observation, interviews with family members and teachers. Once a diagnosis has been made, the clinician will discuss the best course of action and a treatment plan will be put into place. The exact details will depend on the individual child, but there is always a preference to start with psychological treatment before medication. Interventions include behaviour management and parenting advice, and psychoeducation about ADHD. This can help you to understand ways to help yourself and your child to make things easier for both of you.

We are also the only clinic in the UK offering eTNS treatment for ADHD. This non-invasive, pain-free treatment for ADHD is without side effects. It is a portable treatment device which sends a low-level electrical pulse, through a small wire which is attached to the patient’s forehead, whilst asleep. This stimulates the trigeminal nerve which activates the pathway to the parts of the brain that are important in regulating behaviour, emotion and attention. eTNS has results superior to drug treatments with no side effects.

Whether you’re concerned your child has ADHD or your child has already been diagnosed and you’d like private treatment at The London Psychiatry Centre, please don’t hesitate to call our friendly administration team who will be able to answer any queries you have. Call now on 020 7580 4224 or email info@psychiatrycentre.co.uk.

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