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Child Neurology Consultants of Austin

ADHD

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders in kids. Those with ADHD have difficulty paying attention, are often easily distracted, and may be impulsive or hyperactive.

ADHD occurs in an estimated 3-7% of children and tends to be more common in boys than girls. Although ADHD is a lifelong disorder for which there is no cure, symptoms are manageable and often improve with age.

There are three different types of ADHD:

  • Inattentive: Children who are “daydreamers” and have difficulty staying on task
  • Hyperactive: Children who are very physically active, restless, talkative, and always “on the go”
  • Combined: This is the most common type including children who have both inattentive and hyperactive behaviors

Overview of ADHD

Causes & Symptoms

There is no single definitive cause for ADHD, however research shows that genetics plays an important role. Other factors thought to increase the risk for ADHD include:

  • Prematurity
  • Prenatal drug or alcohol exposure
  • Brain injury or trauma
  • Environmental exposures (such as lead)

Typically, though, a specific cause is never identified in most children diagnosed with ADHD.

Common symptoms of all ADHD types include:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Daydreaming
  • Disorganized or forgetful
  • Easily distracted
  • Interrupts or talks excessively
  • Rushes through, or has trouble completing, tasks
  • Acts impulsively or without thinking
  • Fidgets and squirms
  • Restless, or always “on the go”
  • Often loses things
  • Noisy or disruptive behavior

Diagnosis

There is no actual medical testing that exists to diagnose ADHD. A diagnosis stems from careful observations of a child that are matched with certain behavioral and developmental criteria set forth specifically for ADHD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Fifth Edition (DSM-V), a publication by the American Psychiatric Association.

Detailed questionnaires completed by parents and your child’s teachers are often the first step in the diagnostic process, along with a complete physical to rule out any medical problems. An evaluation with a neuropsychologist is also helpful to uncover any learning disabilities or other mental health issues that may be contributing to your child’s attention struggles.

ADHD Diagnostic Criteria


Treatment

The most common and effective treatment for ADHD is stimulant medication. Stimulants work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain and are effective for about 70-80% of children with ADHD.

Non-stimulants are used when a child does not tolerate stimulants well, or if parents prefer a non-stimulant approach.

In addition to medication, we may suggest a combination of the following:

  • Academic accommodations at school, or an IEP (Individualized Education Program)
  • Behavioral or psychological therapy
  • Non-prescription dietary supplements

(Adapted from the National Resource Center on ADHD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC))

To schedule an ADHD evaluation for your child with a pediatric neurologist in Austin or Cedar Park, call Child Neurology Consultants of Austin at (512) 494-4000 or submit an appointment request online.


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