Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also called attention-deficit disorder (ADD), is a behavior disorder that is usually first diagnosed in childhood, but can affect adults as well.

Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and, in some cases, hyperactivity. The symptoms of hyperactivity, when present, are usually apparent by the age of 7 and may be present in very young preschoolers. Inattention or attention-deficit may not be evident until a child faces the expectations of elementary school.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults

While some children with ADHD outgrow it, about 60 percent still have it as adults. In fact, some adults have ADHD and don’t know it. Every adult who has ADHD had it as a child, but may not have been diagnosed as a child if the symptoms didn’t interfere with their schoolwork or were obvious enough to alert teachers and parents.

The symptoms of ADHD in adults tend to be more subtle than they are in children, which could further delay diagnosis and treatment. However subtle the symptoms may seem, they still have a big impact on your daily life.

Treating Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Specific treatment for ADHD will be determined by your or your child’s doctor based on age, extent of the symptoms, tolerance for medications and your personal preferences.

Medication

These medications are used for their ability to balance chemicals in the brain that prohibit the child from maintaining attention and controlling impulses. They help "stimulate" or help the brain to focus and may be used to reduce the major characteristics of ADHD.

  • Medications that are commonly used to treat ADHD include the following:
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Metadate, Concerta, Methylin)
  • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Dextrostat)
  • A mixture of amphetamine salts (Adderall)
  • Atomoxetine (Strattera)
  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)

Behavior Management

Parenting children with ADHD may be difficult and can present challenges that create stress within the family. Classes in behavior management skills for parents can help reduce stress for all family members. Training in behavior management skills for parents usually occurs in a group setting which encourages parent-to-parent support. Behavior management skills may include the following:

  • Point systems
  • Contingent attention (responding to the child with positive attention when desired behaviors occur; withholding attention when undesired behaviors occur)

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