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Introduction

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • a short attention span or being easily distracted
  • restlessness, constant fidgeting or overactivity
  • being impulsive

ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it is more common in people with learning difficulties. People with ADHD may also have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be first noticed at an early age, and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school. Most cases are diagnosed in children between the ages of 6 and 12.

The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who are diagnosed with the condition at a young age will continue to experience problems.

What causes Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families, and research has identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder compared to those who don’t have the condition.

Other factors that have been suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:

  • being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • having a low birthweight
  • smoking, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy

How Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is treated

There is no cure for ADHD, but it can be managed with appropriate educational support, advice and support for parents and affected children, alongside medication, if necessary.

Medication is often the first treatment offered to adults with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder although psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also help.

Living with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Looking after a child with ADHD can be challenging, but it is important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour.

Some issues that may arise in day-to-day life include:

  • getting your child to sleep at night
  • getting ready for school on time
  • listening to and carrying out instructions
  • being organised
  • social occasions
  • shopping

Adults with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may also find they have similar problems, and some may have issues with drugs, crime and employment.

 

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