Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood disorder, which is thought to be neurological. Children diagnosed with ADHD often have trouble focusing, and are easily distracted, overly active or talkative (in some cases), impulsive and forgetful. Symptoms often last into adulthood and may interfere with studies, work, household management and relationships.
However, ADHD is treatable with therapy, medication and/or lifestyle changes.
Types of ADHD and diagnosis
Symptoms and, therefore, diagnosis depend on the type of ADHD your child may have. There are three types of ADHD:
- Inattentive type: distraction, poor concentration and poor organisational skills.
- Hyperactive-impulsive type: disruptive, impatient, risk taking, talkative, fidgety, overly energetic and unfocused.
- Combination type: a combination of the symptoms above.
These symptoms are not exclusive to ADHD, but do impact your child’s life on a daily basis if your child has ADHD. It’s important to note that symptoms may change over time, so the type of ADHD and treatment may change too. It’s also important to note that symptoms may differ in boys and girls. Your doctor will be able to diagnose ADHD, but may refer your child to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Treatment for ADHD includes therapy, medication and/or lifestyle changes.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
A psychologist or psychiatrist will be able to help your child through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to learn how to monitor and manage their behaviour. CBT may help your child to develop emotional, social and organisational skills with which they may be struggling.
- Occupational therapy
An occupational therapist (OT) may be able to help your child to develop their organisational and planning skills, self-regulation skills, fine and gross motor skills, and independence in everyday tasks.
Bestmed members who complete their health assessment can unlock the benefit of an annual functional assessment at a contracted OT for each of their children aged 3 to 12 years. Only one parent needs to complete their HRA to unlock this Bestmed Tempo wellness programme benefit.
A psychologist or psychiatrist will discuss how ADHD affects your child’s life and help to find ways to manage symptoms.
Medication prescribed for ADHD may help your child to focus better and control their actions. Stimulants or nonstimulants may be prescribed. The most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD are central nervous system stimulants which increase dopamine (hormone and neurotransmitter) and norepinephrine (a stress hormone and neurotransmitter).
Your doctor may prescribe nonstimulant medication if stimulants don’t work or have side effects. The prescribed nonstimulant may increase norepinephrine levels in the brain.
Bestmed provides chronic medication cover for ADHD as a non-CDL condition on all plans except Beat1, Beat2 and Pulse1.
- Lifestyle changes
In addition to, or instead of medication, a few lifestyle changes may help your child to manage ADHD symptoms. It is recommended that your child:
- eat a healthy, balance diet.
- exercise for at least 60 minutes per day.
- get enough sleep.
- limit their daily screen time (phones, tablets, computers, television).
- follow a consistent schedule to help with organisational skills.
- Make sure that personal items have a designated place.
- have positive support from their parents and teachers to help them succeed.
Managing ADHD can be a challenge, but if it’s not treated, it may be even more challenging for your child to succeed, which may lead to low self-esteem, depression and/or difficulties with relationships. A successful and fulfilling life is possible with the right treatment. Treatment is, therefore, important to decrease the effects of ADHD symptoms.