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ADHD in Children and Early Childhood Needs

The condition attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a rather common neuro-cognitive disorder which is observed in children. It is observed that individuals with ADHD have low levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, and this has a direct link with the dopamine levels. The role of dopamine is to control one’s reward and pleasure centre. The ADHD brain shows impairment in the frontal cortex, basal ganglia, reticular activating system and limbic system. Deficiencies in these regions can cause inter-brain communication to delay and result in ‘short-circuit’. It leads to inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

How do Children with ADHD react?

Children who have ADHD are distracted easily and could act without thinking. They are extraordinarily active. Although they understand what is expected out of them, they have trouble doing it right as they can’t pay attention to what’s told, have difficulty in sitting still and attending to details. Children with ADHD may also have behavioural problems, difficulties in handling emotions and learning, which can get them into a lot of trouble.

Kids who are young can be active, distracted and busy, but children with ADHD show continuous and more frequent periods of disruption and inability to sit in one place which can affect their social functions at home and school. Children with ADHD usually have poor self esteem as they are constantly criticised by parents and teachers. Their behaviour is not recognised as a health concern. Children put themselves down and describe themselves as stupid or dumb.

Difference between ADD and ADHD

There is a difference between ADD and ADHD. ADD is attention deficit disorder and children do not show hyperactivity symptoms in this case. ADD describes symptoms of distractibility, inattention and a poor working memory while ADHD has additional symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity. The child’s specific symptoms will help to understand which symptoms best describe him or her. There could be signs of being a daydreamer or more of a fidgeter.

What are the common symptoms to watch out for?

Some children as they age show fewer symptoms, but certain major symptoms can carry to adulthood. Adults with ADHD can have difficulty paying attention and show impulsivity. Some of the common symptoms to watch out for includes

• Impulsiveness
• Trouble multitasking
• Poor time management
• Being disorganised
• Restlessness
• Frequent mood swings
• High frustration
• Being hot tempered
• Being Stressed
• Problems completing tasks

What are the causes of ADHD?

It is exactly not clear as to why ADHD is happening. However, it is thought that:

• Genetics: This condition can run genetically, and studies show that genes can take a part.

• Environment: Exposure to factors like lead can pose this condition as children.

• Developmental problems: When there are problems in the central nervous system it can be a cause for ADHD

What are the risk factors for ADHD?

• Having a parent or sibling with ADHD predisposes other children in the family

• A child exposed to environmental toxins like lead and other heavy metals

• Being born prematurely

• A mother smoking in pregnancy or consuming alcohol

Strategies and Techniques looking after Children with ADHD

It is seen that group situations are quite stressful for children with ADHD. They struggle with social situations and find it difficult with turn-taking, listening and sharing. Children with ADHD find it hard to recognise the feelings of others. These children can be supported with books, puppets, social stories which can help in grabbing the child’s attention to speak to them directly. Other strategies like blowing bubbles or singing a song may help to draw attention.

Children with ADHD should be accepted and loved. Care should be taken to handle such children with patience. The children should be aware of rules and expectations in the setting and expectations must be built gradually. Parents should be one step ahead and identify the signs of the child being overstimulated. Young children with ADHD can show fatigue coupled with overexcitement and overactivity.

Having a routine, consistency and predictability helps children to be in control and stay calm. Use of pictorial charts and timetables helps to keep wait times a minimum. Giving one to one attention is helpful for young children with ADHD. Giving time and attention to the child can help them focus better and the staff must speak clearly with short sentences. Children feel motivated when they feel cared for and they enjoy spending time with them.

Like any other relationship, building trust and a positive relationship with each child is key. Severe punishing and recalling all minor incidents should be discouraged. Positivity must be emphasized always.

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