Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD

Let's talk about ADHD

This animation discusses what it means to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It was co-produced by children with ADHD, their families and carers, and health professionals in the field. It is based on research evidence as well as ideas from children and individuals with lived experienced of ADHD.

Support for Parents in managing ADHD
ADHD help guide
Parent Guide and Support for children with ADHD

What Is ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a medical condition. A person with ADHD has differences in brain development and brain activity that affect attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control. ADHD can affect a child at school, at home, and in friendships.

What Are the Signs of ADHD?

All children struggle at times to pay attention, listen and follow directions, sit still, or wait their turn. But for children with ADHD, the struggles are harder and happen more often.

Children with ADHD can show signs in any or all these areas:

Inattentive. Children who are inattentive (easily distracted) have trouble focusing their attention, concentrating, and staying on task. They may not listen well to directions, may miss important details, and may not finish what they start. They may daydream or dawdle too much. They may seem absent-minded or forgetful, and lose track of their things.

Hyperactive. Children who are hyperactive are fidgety, restless, and easily bored. They may have trouble sitting still, or staying quiet when needed. They may rush through things and make careless mistakes. They may climb, jump, or roughhouse when they shouldn't. Without meaning to, they may act in ways that disrupt others.

Impulsive. Children who are impulsive act too quickly before thinking. They often interrupt, might push or grab, and find it hard to wait. They may do things without asking for permission, take things that aren't theirs, or act in ways that are risky. They may have emotional reactions that seem too intense for the situation.

Sometimes parents and teachers notice signs of ADHD when a child is very young. But it's normal for little children to be distracted, restless, impatient, or impulsive — these things don't always mean that a child has ADHD.

Attention, activity, and self-control develop little by little, as children grow. Children learn these skills with help from parents and other adults. But some children don't get much better at paying attention, settling down, listening, or waiting. When these things continue and begin to cause problems at school, home, and with friends, it may be ADHD.

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

If you think your child has ADHD, make an appointment with your child's doctor or speak to your school SENCO for advice. They will do a checkup, including a vision and hearing check, to be sure something else isn't causing the symptoms.

To diagnose ADHD, doctors start by asking about a child's health, behaviour, and activity. They talk with parents and kids about the things they have noticed. Your doctor might ask you to complete checklists about your child's behaviour, and might ask you to give your child's teacher a checklist too.

After getting this information, doctors diagnose ADHD if it's clear that:

  • A child's trouble with paying attention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity go beyond what's usual for their age.
  • The behaviours have been going on since the child was young.
  • The behaviours affect the child at school and at home.
  • A health check shows that another health or learning issue isn't causing the problems.

Many children with ADHD also have learning problems, oppositional and defiant behaviours, or mood and anxiety problems. Doctors usually treat these along with the ADHD.

The doctor can refer you to a child psychologist or psychiatrist, if needed.

How Can Parents Help?

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD:

Be involved. Learn all you can about ADHD. Follow the treatment your child's health care provider recommends. Go to all recommended therapy visits.

Give medicines safely. If your child is taking ADHD medicine, always give it at the recommended time and dose. Keep medicines in a safe place.

Work with your child's school.  Meet often with teachers to find out how your child is doing and talk about your child's PPP . Work together to help your child do well

Parent with purpose and warmth. Learn what parenting approaches are best for a child with ADHD — and which can make ADHD worse. Talk openly and supportively about ADHD with your child. Focus on your child's strengths and positive qualities.

Connect with others for support and awareness. Join a support group like CHADD for ADHD to get updates on treatment and other information.

ADHD can improve when children get treatment, eat healthy food, get enough sleep and exercise, and have supportive parents who know how to respond to ADHD.

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