Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic mental health condition that affects a person’s ability to pay attention and manage impulses.
It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.
It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors.
A child with ADHD might:
daydream a lot
forget or lose things a lot
squirm or fidget
talk too much
make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
have a hard time resisting temptation
have trouble taking turns
have difficulty getting along with others
Experts estimate that 5–7% of school-aged children worldwide have ADHD, and around 63 million children and adolescents live with the condition worldwide.
ADHD typically affects an individual’s educational functioning, management of interpersonal conflict, relationships, and ability to provide emotional support. The symptoms of ADHD include inattention and hyperactivity or impulsivity. These qualities can lead to difficulties in time management, emotional regulation, motivation, and executive function, which are needed for completing tasks.
Deciding if a child has ADHD is a process with several steps. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms. One step of the process involves having a medical exam, including hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems with symptoms like ADHD. Diagnosing ADHD usually includes a checklist for rating ADHD symptoms and taking a history of the child from parents, teachers, and sometimes, the child.
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