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FAQs

NOTE: The term ADHD denotes Attention Deficit Disorder with &/or without hyperactivity & has been used here to describe both.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ADHD?
Inattention – not paying attention, distractible
Hyperactivity –over-activity
Impulsivity – both in speech or actions
Different children may have different combinations of the above. 

WHO CAN TEST FOR ADHD?
Ideally ADHD should be assessed and diagnosed by a multi-disciplinary team: 
(a) Educational psychologist will assess academic, emotional & intellectual aspects of the child – they will identify specific learning difficulties & help you understand why the child is struggling.  They show levels at which your child is currently functioning and also their potential.  If they suspect underlying medical conditions or feel the child needs medication, a referral would be made to a developmental paediatrician. 

(b) Paediatrician might also include an academic assessment.  In general they do a complete physical examination of the child; in addition they examine the child’s history using information from the parents & sometimes the school/teacher.  Combining all this info they are able to make their assessments. 

Neurologists use an EEG (brain wave test) if a seizure problem is suspected. QEEG???

 

What other therapists/therapies should my child be having
Other members of the multi-disciplinary assessment team include a speech-language therapist who can evaluate your child if speech, language or hearing problems are of concern.  Occupational therapists evaluate fine and gross motor co-ordination; some are able to offer sensory integration therapy.

AT WHAT AGE CAN ADHD BE DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis should take place from the age of 5 - 7 years (formative school-going age), although some of the symptoms could be present from birth. It is important that the symptoms, as per the DSM IVR (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Vol IV Revised) be present for a period of more than six months in all situations. Symptoms usually appear before the age of seven, although diagnosis may only take place much later.

Other members of the multi-disciplinary assessment team include a speech-language therapist who can evaluate your child if speech, language or hearing problems are of concern.  Occupational therapists evaluate fine and gross motor co-ordination; some are able to offer sensory integration therapy.

Are there any other behaviours we should be aware of?
This is a list of challenges/behaviours  as identified by support groups/professionals world-wide.
(click on the heading for more detailed info)

  • Constant Purposeless Motion:

        Cot rocking, head banging, constant fidgeting, very busy but achieving nothing.  May be active   
before birth.  Some have low activity levels.

  • Behaviour:

       Highly excitable, impulsive (actions & speech), unpredictable, frustrated, demands to be met
immediately, cries easily, whining & clinging behaviour, possessive of mother’s attention. 
Don’t obey instructions.  Don’t finish what they start.  Crave attention. Want control. Poor social
skills. 

  • Sleeping Habits:

        Difficulty in going to sleep, restless sleep, night terrors, may fear sleep.

  • Poor Co-ordination and Low Muscle Tone:

        Terrible handwriting, dislikes colouring in, cutting, drawing, tying, buttoning.  They may also be
clumsy, bump into things, spill things, trip.  Some cannot play sports.

  • Inappropriate Sensory Modulation and Sensory Defensiveness:

       Auditory, tactile, visual, olfactory defensiveness.  Inappropriate reaction to stimuli. Biting /   
chewing things. 

  • Aggression:

       Disruptive, disturbs other children, destructive.  Aggressive punishment only makes them more
aggressive.

  • Poor Organisation Skills:

Slow dressing (if at all), bedroom / suitcase / desk usually a mess; loses things, poor planning skills.

  • Speech and Language:

May be delayed speech, stuttering, pronunciation.  Does not understand implication / sarcasm (jokes, are you coming?)  Inappropriate use of language.  Does not read body language. 

  • Attention Span:

Generally short attention span & very distractible.  Inconsistent attention.  Has sustained but not selective attention – cannot concentrate unless fascinated.

  • Specific Learning Disorders:

Auditory/memory deficits; visual/memory deficits; Disturbance in optical orientation; difficulty with comprehension, maths.

  • Further Symptoms are:

Depressed immune system, allergies/sensitivities, dry skin, eczema, rings/puffiness under eyes, physical/emotional/academic immaturity.  Thirsty, sweaty, night head sweats, abnormal appetite.  Mainly boys.  Frequent antibiotics may provoke further problems.  Often have allergies, hay fever, migraine, severe PMS.  Parents totally exhausted and feeling guilty.

WHAT COULD LOOK LIKE OR MANIFEST AS ADHD?
It is very important when considering a diagnosis of ADHD, to rule out other conditions that can look like ADHD. 
These could include:

  • Allergies, Asthma – Ongoing allergies & sensitivities as well as difficulty with breathing can leave a child feeling unwell & can interrupt concentration & cause ADHD-like signs / symptoms.
  • Diabetes/Hypoglycaemia - These conditions relate to the quantity of sugar in the blood & can cause changes in concentration & activity levels.
  • Hearing or Visual problems - The inability to see or hear what is going on in the classroom can lead to behavioural outbursts, incompletion of work & disturbing of classmates & hyperactivity.
  • Iron Deficiency / Anaemia - Can lead to attention & impulsivity problems.
  • Petit mal Seizures / epilepsy – Sometimes known as ‘absence attacks’. These could cause the child to miss out on what is being said at the time and miss a lot of information.
  • Lead Intoxication - Lead intoxication can lead to hyperactivity.
  • Learning problems - If a child is frustrated from learning disabilities, he or she may have ADHD-like behaviour.
  • Emotional difficulties - This could be due to a divorce, death in the family, an accident that could manifest with hyperactivity symptoms.  Make sure that stress levels are monitored & eliminated or kept as low as possible

WHAT CAUSES ADHD?
ADHD has several components:

  • neurological - meaning that there is a imbalance of certain neurotransmitters;
  • biochemical - meaning a deficiency (or imbalance) in Prostaglandin's E1, E3 (PE1,PE3) ie Omega 3 & 6 Essential Fatty Acids. Combined with a healthier eating programme improvements can be quite significant.  For more detailed info enquire about our Shopping Basket
  • genetic

It is thought that lifestyle can either reduce strongly exaggerate symptoms of ADHD.  Making conscious changes to lifestyle ie reducing stress, healthier eating, supplementation, regular exercise

WHAT ARE THE SA STATISTICS OF ADHD?
According to the most recent data, approximately between 8 & 10% of the South African population have ADHD. It could be present from birth (often not recognised) or early childhood and usually persists throughout a person's lifetime. It is not limited to children only! 

IS ADHD OUTGROWN?
If you have a child who is ADHD, the chances are that either you or your spouse also has the condition. "Hyper actives" tend to be drawn to people who are also dynamic, over-active & often vivacious. So it could be that there are characteristics of ADHD in both sides of your child's family (so no finger-pointing, please!)
Maybe, as you watch your child experiencing certain difficulties, you remember your own childhood, & you wonder... Perhaps you've had persistent problems that have plagued you throughout your adulthood. It is used to be though that ADHD was outgrown at adolescence, but now it is generally accepted that it usually continues into adulthood, although it may manifest differently. 
Although many people with ADHD (around 50%) have a reduction in symptoms during adolescence and adulthood, only a few people no longer have any symptoms. Many still continue to have problems following conversations, forgetting assignments, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, being disorganised, shopping or gambling impulsively (addictive behaviour), switching jobs often, have relationship problems, or procrastinating. Often more secondary problems like low self-esteem, anxiety & depression start to manifest during adolescence & adulthood.

IS PRESCRIBED MEDICATION THE ONLY WAY TO TREAT ADHD?
Clinical experience has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD is a combination of dietary intervention, medication, the necessary supplementation, exercise, therapy &/or counselling to learn coping skills and adaptive behaviours, as well as academic accommodations for children & students with ADHD.

WHY ARE ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFAs) (OMEGA 3 & 6) SO IMPORTANT?
The body uses EFAs to manufacture certain hormone-like substances which affect every function and cell wall (and so tissues) in the body.  They also affect neural function including concentration.  It has been said that up to 80% of people in the Western Hemisphere have EFA deficiencies.

Symptoms of EFA Deficiency
There are many, including:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Multiple allergies
  • Ear infections
  • Asthma
  • Dry, unmanageable hair
  • Hyperactivity / ADD
  • Dry, flaking skin
  • “Goose-bump” skin
  • Nail problems
  • Eczema
  • Depressed immune system
  • Frequent infections

 

We should get our EFAs from our food supply especially from seed oils but modern processing changes their chemical structure.  Heated oils (deep-fried foods) are converted to Trans-fats by our bodies & are bad for us – our bodies cannot benefit from nor use them. 

WHY DO I NEED A MULTIVITAMIN WITH OMEGA SUPPLEMENTS?
The body does not metabolise / break down the Omega Oils without certain vitamins & minerals, all of which can be found in a good, broad-spectrum multivitamin.  These include: calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C & Vitamin Bs.

WHAT DOSAGE OF OMEGA SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD I GIVE?
Research has shown that Omega 3 (from fish oil or certain seeds, e.g. flax) is very important for improved brain function. There is currently controversy about the quantities & ratios of Omega 3 and Omega 6 (usually in the form of Evening Primrose Oil / EPO) to be taken - the bottom line is that they are both important & so is healthy eating.

DOES DIET REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Many children with ADHD improve when put on a diet avoiding artificial colourants, artificial flavourants & avoiding certain natural foods.  It is impossible to predict how a child will benefit & in which area improvements will be take place, but they are often evident in improved concentration, general health and/or social interaction.  Sometimes the change is dramatic, sometimes it can hardly be noticed – this depends upon the child and his/her own unique make-up, but it also depends upon the diet being followed 100%!  If the child is in a state of reaction to just one substance, this could mask any improvement that might otherwise be seen.  Remember that a single dietary infraction could affect behaviour, concentration, sleep etc for the next 72 hours!
ADHASA has a Food List containing foods without the additives mentioned above.  This (& other invaluable information & books) is available by joining ADHASA as a member – see JOIN ADHASA on our website for the application form.

WILL NATURAL SUPPLEMENTATION INTERFERE WITH PRESCRIBED MEDICATION?
Not at all.  In fact, supplementation is just as important if taking medication or not.  Chemicals will deplete the body of vitamins & minerals & adding them back with supplementation is essential.

F.A.Q

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ADHASA Goals

  • To provide support and information to families, therapists, teachers and caregivers interacting with ADHD children and adults.
  • To provide insight and awareness of the challenges of ADD and hyperactivity.
  • To offer counselling, guidance and referral services.  READ MORE

Contact ADHASA

Head Office: Delta Park School, Blairgowrie, Randburg, Gauteng

Tel:  011-888-7655

Fax: 086-604-7124

eMail:  info@ADHASA.co.za

Our Head Office is now open weekdays from  8am - 2pm during school term

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