- Predominantly inattentive with little or no sign of impulsivity and hyperactivity
- Predominantly impulsive and hyperactive with little or no attention difficulties
- The combined type - these people are very distractible, hyperactive, and impulsive.
AT WHAT AGE CAN ADD/ADHD BE DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosis should only take place from the age of 5 to 7 years although some of the symptoms could be present from birth. It is important that the symptoms, as per the DSM IV, 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.
WHAT COULD LOOK LIKE OR MANIFEST AS HYPERACTIVITY?
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 - Difficulty with breathing can interrupt a child's concentration and cause ADHD-like signs
- Diabetes/Hypoglycaemia - These conditions relate to the quantity of sugar in the blood and can cause changes in concentration and 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 and disturbing of classmates and hyperactivity
- Iron Deficiency - Can lead to attention and impulsivity problems
- Lead Intoxication - Can lead to hyperactivity
- Learning problems - If a child is frustrated from learning disabilities, he or she may have ADHD-like behaviour
- difficulties - This could be due to a divorce, death in the family, an accident that could manifest with hyperactivity symptoms
IT IS THEREFORE CRUCIAL TO MAKE SURE THAT WE DO NOT MERELY TREAT SYMPTOMS BUT THAT WE HEAL AND TREAT THE CORE OF THE PROBLEM
WHAT CAUSES ADD/ADHD?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of ADD/ADHD is unknown. We do know the following:
- It is neurological - meaning that there is a imbalance of certain neurotransmitters;
- It is biochemical - meaning a deficiency in Prostaglandin's E1, E3 (PE1,PE3);
- It is an 80% genetic condition.
HOW MANY CHILDREN IN SOUTH AFRICA HAVE ADD/ADHD?
According to the most recent data, approximately between 8 and 10 % of the South African population have ADD/H. 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. See Adult ADD: fact or myth?
CAN YOU OUTGROW ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER?
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, marriage anniversaries, birthdays, being disorganized, shopping or gambling impulsively, switching jobs often, have relationship problems, or procrastinating. Often more secondary problems like low self-esteem, anxiety and depression start to manifest during adolescence and adulthood.
HOW IS ADD/ADHD TREATED?
Clinical experience has shown that the most effective treatment for ADD/ADHD is a combination of dietary intervention, medication, the necessary supplementation, therapy and/or counselling to learn coping skills and adaptive behaviours, as well as academic accommodations for children and students with ADD/ADHD.
The Elimination diet (see also ADD/ADHD and Diet):
Avoiding foods containing
- Artificial ingredients, MSG, preservatives and at first fruit and vegetables containing high levels of salicylates.
- If the child/teenager/adult is allergic and/or thirsty the diet needs to be supplemented with Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 6 and 3) as well as co-factor nutrients.
- Restricting the amount of refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice and especially white sugar).
- Replacing refined carbohydrates with
- protein and complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole grains and vegetables.
There is a wide range of medications available to help in the treatment of ADD/ADHD, the most commonly being Ritalin. It is known that 70% of ADHD children respond well to medication. There are side effects but most of them can be managed. The most likely side effects are appetite suppression, headaches, tummy aches, irritability, nausea and sleep disturbances. The most serious side effect, but not seen very often, is a tic of some description.
Up to 30% of children being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD will not be able to tolerate chemical medications and for these children working with the diet could be the way to go. When a child responds well to the diet, very often they may need less medication. A combination of the diet and medication often helps many of the ADD/ADHD children to cope far better with school, home and social situations.
Each child is different and each family will have to work out through trial and error what works best for them and their child. You may need to try different medications and dosages to find the right one that suits your child. A trial period for medication is recommended with keen observation from parents and teachers while undergoing the trial. Having ADD/ADHD is not a sentence to a bad life. When properly treated, people with ADHD can lead fulfilling, happy lives. There are many positive aspects to this condition. ADD/ADHD people may be imaginative, talented, creative, lateral thinkers and people with boundless energy!