What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition. There are three subtypes: ‘Inattentive’, ‘hyperactive’ and ‘combined’. The symptoms of ADHD include inconsistent attention, (They may struggle to focus on something expected of them but may hyperfocus on something else) . Hyperactivity (fidgety and finding it difficult to stay still when needing to) Impulsiveness (They frequently suddenly do or say something without considering the consequences). People with ADHD may also find it difficult to organise, plan, start tasks, finish tasks,  and self-regulate.

As part of development, children typically will take time to learn how to listen ,concentrate and follow expectations in every day activities such as listening to a story, sitting down to dinner, playing with their friends. As a child grows they may find it difficult to develop these skills at the same rate as their peers. This may suggest that further assessment in these areas could be considered. ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood but sometimes in adolescence or later. 

For an ADHD diagnosis, characteristics must be present in 2 or more settings and must not be better explained by another diagnosis.   As we are all different, some children may present with inconsistent attention, hyperactivity or impulsivity but be below the threshold for a diagnosis.

ADHD Top Tips

For parents

  • Remain consistent and firm in your approach – agree rules and stick to them. Providing feedback and give rewards where warranted!
  • Allow your child a quiet space to calm down and re-direct them when they become upset.
  • Maintain sleep hygiene – encourage time spent outside and support exercise. No fizzy drinks in the evening, no electronics an hour before bed and try relaxation before sleep. Stick to same bed time and wake up times every day and avoid changes on weekends.
  • Encourage your child to focus on one thing at a time, for example, no TV during homework or dinner.
  • Break tasks or chores up into small chunks, with frequent breaks.
  • Keep daily living simple and create a predictable routine, for example, put calendar on the fridge.
  • Encourage exercise and activity to use energy!

In School

  • Provide the child with a quieter environment, with fewer distractions. Minimise distractions by having them sit at the front and not near windows or doors.
  • Have rules displayed in a clear and concise manner.
  • Maintain a predictable routine, which could be illustrated in a wall timetable.
  • Allow time outs, which could include movement, relaxation or sensory play and in a quiet space if possible.
  • Allow stress and fidget toys, wobble seats etc.
  • Allow doodling and encourage notes and mind mapping.
  • Consider additional support for tests and exams.
  • Count down to transitions, e.g. ten minute warning, five minute warning, 2 minute warning.

ADHD advice and support

Links to sources of help and advice on ADHD