About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a common behavioural disorder in children and young people. It usually starts in early childhood with the core behaviours of ADHD typically present from before the age of 7 years and symptoms sometimes persisting into adulthood.

The facts

  • ADHD is a real condition
  • ADHD affects approximately 2 to 5 % of all children
  • The dysfunction of ADHD is thought to be due to an imbalance in the brains neurotransmitter chemicals
  • This imbalance is mostly found in the parts of the brain responsible for self-monitoring and putting the brakes on unwise behaviour
  • ADHD is a disorder more commonly diagnosed in boys. It is suggested that the true ratio of boys to girls is 3:1
  • ADHD is a long term condition which affects learning and behaviour

What are the key symptoms of ADHD?

The symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Inattentiveness – inability to concentrate for a long time or finish tasks, disorganisation and forgetfulness
  • Hyperactivity- fidgetiness, inability to stay still or restlessness
  • Impulsivity – speaking and doing things without thinking about consequences, interrupting other people, inability to wait or take turns

Can ADHD exist with other conditions?

Children and young people with ADHD may also experience sleep difficulties, academic under achievement, clumsiness (dyspraxia), temper tantrums, anger outbursts, mood swings and find it hard to socialise.

They may also have co-existing conditions such as anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, autism, conduct disorder, oppositional defiance disorder and learning difficulties.

Impact of ADHD on family life and relationships

ADHD can have a significant impact upon family life and relationships with friends (World Federation for Mental Health, 2005.) Parents of children with ADHD need a great deal of support to help them manage their child’s problems.

Parents/carers have to manage the day-to-day challenges of living with a child/young person with ADHD.

Parents also have to deal with school problems which are common in these children, with many requiring a statement of special educational needs. Children with ADHD require much more support and guidance than their peers in most of their everyday lives.

ADHD is a full-time disorder, requiring full-time care. Professionals need to understand the stress and exhaustion that many parents experience.

What should I do if I think my child has ADHD?

If you think your child is displaying the symptoms and behaviours displayed on this page, you should speak to your GP, health visitor, school nurse or paediatrician.