Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD or ADHD), is also commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Children may:

  • only have symptoms of inattention (attention-deficit)
  • or, they may only have symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • or, they may have a mix of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.


ADHD or ADD is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. 

What that means is that while it is normal and common for children to occasionally forget their homework, daydream during class, act without thinking, or get fidgety at the dinner table, ADHD is more than the occasional lapses. 

Persistent problems with inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are also signs of attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD) which can affect your child’s ability to learn, and your child's ability to get along with others.


Age of onset for ADHD

The age of onset is unclear, as it can be difficult to tease out ADHD from the large variation in toddler and preschool behaviours.  ADHD symptoms are most commonly identified in the early school years.  

Worldwide, it is estimated that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders affect around 5% of children and 2.5% of adults, and the most recent diagnostic guidelines (published in the DSM-5 (2013)) requires that several symptoms be present before age 12 years.

Treatment for ADHD

Treatment can be very helpful. It may relieve many symptoms of ADHD, but there is currently no cure for this disorder. With treatment, most people with ADHD can be successful in school and lead productive lives.

For adults diagnosed in later life, understanding what ADHD is may lead to a deeper understanding of the self, and awareness of helpful strategies to reduce stress.

Gender differences in ADHD

Children often have other problems that occur with their ADHD, such as learning difficulties. In addition, boys may more commonly have difficulties managing their temper, whereas girls more commonly have anxiety problems.

Children who have symptoms of inattention may:

  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty focusing on one thing
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions.

Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:

  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Talk nonstop
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
  • Be constantly in motion
  • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.

Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:

  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
  • Often interrupt conversations or others' activities.

Other problems such as learning difficulties, anxiety, sleep problems, attachment difficulties, mood problems,oppositional attitudes and other neurodevelopmental disorders can lead to very similar symptoms. We understand how important a thorough assessment is in creating a tailored solution for your child.

Our assessments and treatment approaches include access to modern, evidence based approaches. Your psychologist will discuss which treatments are most likely to achieve the best outcome for your child.

APPOINTMENTS: 02 8355 3634

Does my child have ADD or ADHD? 

No single test can diagnose a child as having ADHD. Although your child may appear to have symptoms consistent with ADHD, it is important to complete a full assessment, which may involve (with parental consent) your psychologist liasing with your school, your paediatrician and/or your G.P. 

Assessment includes ruling out a number of other factors which can lead to ADHD type symptoms, including vision and hearing problems, anxiety, sleep problems, parenting styles and learning difficulties.

If your child has ADHD symptoms which are causing problems at home or school, early intervention can help. Effective treatment can help your child learn lifelong skills to flourish. It can be frustrating to have ADHD symptoms, and to have an impulse control or attention system that is difficult to regulate . Research indicates that children with ADHD receive a lot of criticism, even when they may be trying hard to do the right thing, which poses risks for self-esteem. Early intervention can help parents understand the challenges their child faces and this may benefit the parent-child relationship.

ADD and ADHD

Parenting children with AD/HD

Routines. Try to keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Keep copies of the schedule on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board in the kitchen.

Organise everyday items. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.

Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.

Give praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive a lot of criticism. Look for good behaviour, and praise it.

Be kind to yourself! Parenting children with ADHD can be filled with joy, and it can also be complex, challenging, frustrating and demanding!  Make it a priority to build in time for yourself to recharge and refresh, even if it is just a five minute walk each day.

Get professional support. It is important that children learn how to successfully master tasks. This can't happen if they are placed in situations they are not able to cope with. Professional advice can help you understand exactly what your child struggles with, and provide you with strategies and solutions to help. 

TESTING

There is no single test for AD/HD. We offer a comprehensive and holistic testing package for AD/HD, because we know how important an accurate diagnosis is. Our testing is designed with your child's individual needs in mind.

PREMIUM AD/HD TESTING: Includes clinical observations, information gathering from school and parents/carers, and testing in regards to academic, social, behavioural and emotional functioning. A developmental history review and specific tests of attention, in addition to a school observation and psychometric testing to identify cognitive strengths and weaknesses is included, with a comprehensive report, feedback session and recommendations for support/treatment.

STANDARD AD/HD TESTING: Includes clinical observations, information gathering with parents and teachers, and testing in regards to academic, social, behavioural and emotional functioning A developmental history review and specific tests of attention, analysed by an experienced psychologist, not a computer.  A comprehensive report, feedback session and recommendations for support/treatment are provided.

Could it be something else?

The simple answer to this is yes! We recommend that a thorough health assessment by a GP or Paediatrician, as well as vision and hearing checks. Your Psychologist will also talk with your school and other concerned individuals if necessary to get a full picture of the problem, and how it affects your specific child.

Although we are moving closer to understanding the risk factors for ADHD, and the developmental course of this disorder, research continues.