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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in attention, concentration, activity level and impulse control.

Symptoms of the disorder are usually present in early childhood but may only significantly impair the child after he or she enters school. Although ADHD cannot be “outgrown”, children with ADHD can still adjust well to school and adult life if they receive interventions early.

A diagnosis of ADHD should be made only after a thorough clinical assessment, which would include an interview with the parent or significant caregiver of the child. Additional information from other adults in the child’s life (e.g. school teachers, early childhood educators, close relatives) may aid in understanding the child’s condition.

If you think that your child might have ADHD, you are encouraged to seek help early from your trusted mental health professional. The symptoms are:
  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Does not follow through on instructions or fails to finish school work, chores or duties
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Easily distracted by external stimuli
  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Forgetful in daily activities
  • Has difficulties organizing tasks and activities
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in task or play activities
  • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities
Hyperactivity / Impulsivity
  • Blurts out answers before the question is completed
  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
  • Has difficulty awaiting his/her turn
  • Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others
  • Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated in expected
  • Is often “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”
  • Runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate
  • Talks excessively
Do note that the abovementioned symptoms need to affect the child's functioning in most areas of his or her life (not just in the classroom environment) for the child to be diagnosed as ADHD.

It is recommended for the child to receive a comprehensive treatment plan involving multiple treatment modalities so as to achieve the best outcome. Some examples of treatment include:

  • Group work and therapy (e.g., social skills training)
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Psychosocial interventions (e.g., parent training programmes, classroom behaviour management)
  • Psychotherapy (e.g., behavior modification, family therapy)
It is strongly encouraged for the parents and school to work hand-in-hand in implementing the treatment plan so that the child can quickly learn to cope with his or her daily demands.
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