Did you know?

(Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder)

ADHD refers to a set of behaviours resulting from lower than normal levels of some neurotransmitters in the brain, which interfere with the functioning of some areas of the brain. ADHD is also associated with other conditions but for this article we will consider those children whose primary diagnosis is ADHD with average to high intellectual abilities.

There are three types of ADHD:

  • Inattentive with poor concentration (dreamy)
  • Hyperactive with poor impulse control
  • A combination of the two.

The causes are 82% genetic. Other factors may be due to the exposure of the foetus to certain chemicals during pregnancy, low birth weight or psycho-social factors.

Only 6 – 8% of children have ADHD, although only 10% of these are diagnosed and receive treatment.

Children with ADHD have problems with learning, language, aggression, socializing, depression, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and anxiety which are worse without medication. Children also experience constant negative input from parents, teachers, peers and siblings because of their challenging behaviour and suffer from low self-esteem. If they are being negatively affected by any of these symptoms then intervention is advised.

In 70% of cases the symptoms of ADHD carry on into adulthood, especially when not treated during childhood. Other co-morbidity can also develop. These conditions can affect the quality of life, achievements, relationships and performance in the work place of the individual.

The ADHD brain has been describes as a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes. The substances which are at play in the brain are dopamine which keeps the concentration central and noradrenalin which applies the brakes to impulses. With ADHD these substances do not remain in action but get stored.

Management and treatment:

  • Education of parents to understand the condition and the treatment.
  • Early diagnosis of the condition so that it can be well managed to reduce the negative input which the child may receive.
  • Movement and exercise which increases the neurotransmitters temporarily
  • Omega 3-6-9 which assist in neurotransmission
  • Diet is most important: eliminate artificial colourants and preservatives, MSG, flavourants and sugars. (Read all labels) Encourage low GI foods and small quantities of protein throughout the day to stabilize blood glucose levels.
  • Medication- which must be understood as not a “drug” but the supplementation of a substance which is normally found in the brain, to allow successful functioning. Medication is given with no breaks for weekends and holidays in order to maintain a constant level of the substance. Medications prescribed are Ritalin (lasts 4hrs) Ritalin LA (8hrs) Concerta (10-12 hrs) and Strattera (24hrs)
  • Managing daily routine with structure cues and rewards. Allowing the child opportunities to succeed.
  • Building the child’s self esteem through praise, touching, hugging and fun.
  • Teaching successful thought processes for planning, sequencing and analysis.

These children have many excellent qualities like innovation, individuality, enthusiasm, energy, curiosity, independence, quick witted and creativity, to name a few, which they should be helped to use successfully. Some famous ADHD celebrities are Einstein, Richard Branson, Will Smith and others.

NB: BE INFORMED Resources and references:

ADHASA the ADHD support group of Southern Africa www.adhasa.co.za

Dr Shabeer Jeeva at www.adhdclinicjeeva.com

“The manual that never came with your child” by Jane Jarvis J.Jarvis@dsgschool.com