A look at ADHD

As children settle into another school year, the latest Grand Rounds presentation was a timely one on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Providing an update on the topic, Dr. Debbie Leung, a Psychiatrist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) felt that it was important to first be able to identify the signs of ADHD.  She invited Medical Student, Elizabeth Hariri to share a case profile of a child with ADHD.

ADHD

A child who is always on the move, bugging his brothers and sisters and who can’t sit still and is bothering other students in class are good examples of how the child with ADHD might behave.  The student may also not raise their hands to speak in class but instead will shout out the answers spontaneously as well as constantly lose their belongings and seemingly be disorganized.

“This is s a serious issue with consequences if not dealt with appropriately”, says Elizabeth and reaffirmed by Dr. Leung.

In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must be showing at least six symptoms within the past six months and these symptoms must be present in more than one setting, usually in the home and school.  “It may not be ADHD if the signs are only present at school”, explains Dr. Leung.

Genetics is a major risk factor in the diagnosis of ADHD.  “Fifty percent of parents with ADHD are more likely to have a child with ADHD, while 25 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD usually find out that their parents haves been diagnosed,” indicates Dr. Leung.

More boys than girls have ADHD and it is more common in children than adolescents.  While there is a 50 percent remission in adulthood, it is more likely that these persons have found coping skills.

Dr. Leung also shared the results of a multimodal study which suggests that best results are a combination of therapy and medications used in treatment.

While 70 percent of persons respond to their first treatment of a stimulant, there are some side effects which include headaches, trouble sleeping, reduced appetite, and compromised height.  “There are many ways to work with a teacher and strategies that may be used to help the child overcome these effects and be able to have a good outcome.”