|   Find a Doctor   |   Getting to NUH   |   Appointments   |   Contact Us   |   Newsroom   |   About NUH   |   Make a Gift

Home > Events & Health Information > Diseases & Conditions > Learning & Behavioural Problems > Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

About The Condition   Causes   Signs And Symptoms
Diagnosis And Treatment Options   Tips   Research


What Is ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioural and developmental disorder. It is a condition of the brain that makes it hard for children to control their attention, thus affecting their behaviour. Children with ADHD benefit from therapy and medical treatment.


The incidence rate is estimated to be 2% to 7% of school-aged children in large-scale Japanese and American studies respectively. In Singapore, it is estimated to be 3% to 5% of school-going children.


Back to top


Causes Of ADHD

The exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, a combination of factors is thought to be responsible. Many studies suggest that genes play a large role, however the way ADHD is inherited is likely to be complex.


Back to top


Signs And Symptoms Of ADHD

A child with ADHD may have one or more of the following behaviours:

  • Inattention
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Forgetting instructions
    • Moving from one activity to another without completing anything
  • Impulsivity
    • Acting and talking without thinking
    • Unable to wait their turn
    • Interrupting others
  • Overactivity
    • Difficulty sitting still
    • Talking too much
    • Restlessness


It is also important to exclude the possibility that the child’s hyperactivity is due to other factors, e.g. sleep problems, learning difficulties, social issues, anxiety or other mood disorders.


Also, most young children have limited attention span and some need more time to develop school readiness skills. Therefore, the diagnosis is usually made only when a child is older than 6 years of age although symptoms may occur earlier.


There is no single diagnostic test for ADHD. A diagnosis can only be made after information is collected from the parents, other carers and the child’s teachers. The information is usually gathered with the help of a standardised questionnaire which the parent and teacher are asked to complete. A diagnosis can be made by an experienced paediatrician, a child psychologist or child psychiatrist.


The symptoms of ADHD need to:

  • Be present in more than one setting, i.e. home and school
  • Be more severe than in other children of the same age group
  • Be present for more than 6 months
  • Impair a child’s functioning


Back to top


Diagnosis And Treatment Options For ADHD

There is no proven cure for ADHD at this time but there are many treatment options which include:

  • Long Term Treatment Plan

    Behaviour goals are set by parents and the paediatrician and monitoring the child’s progress with follow-up in the clinic.

  • Medication

    For most children, stimulant medications serve as a safe and effective way to relieve ADHD symptoms.

  • Behaviour Therapy

    The focus is on changing the child’s behaviour through education and practice. This is first line therapy.

  • Parent Training

    Parents are trained to manage ADHD behaviours in a positive way, e.g. Positive Parenting Programme.

  • Educational and Teamwork

    School visits are available to assess your child’s functioning at school and provide support for teachers on how to help improve learning behaviour.


Back to top


Tips For Taking Care Of Children With ADHD

Click here for more information on how to help children with ADHD manage their routines at home and in school.


Local Parents Support Group

Society for the Promotion of ADHD Research and Knowledge

Society for the Promotion of ADHD Research and Knowledge (SPARK) provides useful information about the various strategies to help behaviour, relationships and school functioning.


Back to top


Research on ADHD

Clinical research is vital to the advancement of medical care. Our doctors are passionate about contributing to the future of child health and medicine not only through clinical practice but also research.


  1. Law EC, Sideridis GD, Prock LA, Sheridan MA (2014). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in young children: predictors of diagnostic stability. Pediatrics, 133(4):659-67. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3433


Back to top


Our Team

We have a team of paediatricians specialising in developmental and behavioural paediatrics, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, learning support educators, nurses and social workers committed to providing holistic care for children with developmental, learning and behavioural difficulties.


Click here to find out more about our Division of Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics.



The information provided on this page is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your child’s health, physical fitness or medical conditions.