Does my child have ADHD?
If your child or teenager is hyperactive, inattentive or impulsive, you may wonder if they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s normal for children to have trouble focusing at times, get distracted or to have lots of energy. But when they cannot control their impulses, concentrate on school work or control their behaviour, they may be diagnosed with ADHD.
Children with ADHD can find school a challenging environment. They may display oppositional behaviours with family and teachers. They may also be experiencing other issues such as learning difficulties, sleep problems, or mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder cannot be cured, but it can be managed effectively.
Common symptoms of ADHD
ADHD can occur as Hyperactive, Inattentive or mixed types. The diagnosis of ADHD requires symptoms of inattention and focus that occurs in at least two settings (eg. home and school).
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) is a tool used by professionals to diagnose conditions including ADHD. The DSM-5 lists the following criteria as symptoms of ADHD:
Inattentive ADHD Symptoms
- Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
- Has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish school work or chores
- Difficulty organising tasks and activities.
- Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Loses things (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
- Easily distracted
- Forgetful in daily activities
Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD Symptoms
- Fidgets, taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
- Leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
- Feels restless or runs about in situations where it is not appropriate
- Unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly
- Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”
- Talks excessively
- Blurts out answers
- Has trouble waiting their turn
- Interrupts or intrudes on others
ADHD in girls
The common image of a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is that of the hyperactive child (generally a boy), often with oppositional behavioural issues. In recent times, research has highlighted that girls with ADHD often go undiagnosed. Girls generally tend to present with inattentive ADHD behaviours and can fly under the radar. They may find it hard to focus, find it difficult to complete homework, daydream excessively, be easily distracted, and frequently forget and lose personal items.
What causes ADHD?
The causes of ADHD are unknown, but there does appear to be a genetic component. ADHD often runs in families, and parents and siblings of a child with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves.
Scientists are also studying possible other risk factors including: being born prematurely, having a low birth weight, alcohol or drug use during pregnancy, or being exposed to lead or pesticides.
It’s important to know that there is no evidence to support popular theories that ADHD can be caused by sugar, too much TV or video games, or “bad parenting”.
Is ADHD a disability?
For the purposes of the NDIS, ADHD is not classed as a disability. However, if ADHD is diagnosed alongside another condition, such as a learning disability, intellectual disability, or global development delay, you may be eligible for NDIS funding.
For more information see https://adhdfoundation.org.au/ndis
ADHD assessment Melbourne
There is no single test for ADHD. The assessment will begin with our psychologist taking a comprehensive mental health assessment history of your child or teenager. This will help us to understand the factors that have contributed to your child’s developmental progress and neurological development. Then we will collect information from another setting, for example your child’s school. We do this by using standardised tests (e.g. SNAP-IV).
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, your clinician will recommend an appointment with our psychiatrist to discuss treatment recommendations.
Treatment for ADHD requires a combination of medication treatment and non-medication approaches. The combination of medication along with training parents and carers to support their child, have shown to be most effective in treating ADHD symptoms. We work with your child and family to give you helpful strategies and skills to support you to learn how to manage the symptoms of ADHD.
Contact us to learn more about our assessment and treatment of ADHD in Melbourne.
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If you’re experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide:
The Lifeline phone line is available 24/7. Their text line is open midday to midnight and requires you to answer some pre-survey questions to register to use the service. Text: 0477 13 11 14 Webchat is available 7pm-midnight and can be anonymous, there are questions, but they are not mandatory to answer.
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If you have difficulties relating to your gender or sexuality, the Q-life service may be able to help.
Q-Life is a free anonymous phone or webchat service run by Switchboard. The service is open 3pm – midnight every day. They do not offer ongoing counselling, rather they can offer support regarding any issues you are having related to gender or sexuality that you would like to discuss anonymously.
- 1800 184 527
- www.switchboard.org.au/qlife for online chat