Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, and impulsivity (acting before you think). ADHD is usually identified when children are in grade school but can be diagnosed at any time from preschool to adulthood. Recent studies indicate that almost 10 percent of children between the ages of 4 to 17 are reported by their parents as being diagnosed with ADHD. So in a classroom of 30 children, two to three children may have ADHD.1,2,3,4,5
Short attention spans and high levels of activity are a normal part of childhood. For children with ADHD, these behaviors are excessive, inappropriate for their age, and interfere with daily functioning at home, school, and with peers. Some children with ADHD only have problems with attention; other children only have issues with hyperactivity and impulsivity; most children with ADHD have problems with all three. As they grow into adolescence and young adulthood, children with ADHD may become less hyperactive yet continue to have significant problems with distraction, disorganization, and poor impulse control.
ADHD can interfere with a child’s ability to perform in school, do homework, follow rules, and develop and maintain peer relationships. When children become adolescents, ADHD can increase their risk of dropping out of school or having disciplinary problems. Adolescents with ADHD may also experience an increased risk of driving violations and accidents, are more likely to smoke cigarettes and abuse drugs, have problems with employment, and experience other mental health problems in addition to ADHD.
Early identification of ADHD is advisable—children are most often identified in elementary school. Effective behavioral and medication treatments are available to help manage the symptoms of ADHD. These treatments can improve functioning at home, school, and in social situations. Before treatment begins, each child should have a comprehensive assessment to make the diagnosis and plan for treatment.
This medication guide is intended to help youngsters with ADHD and their families to better understand the treatments for ADHD.