Do you feel that your child can’t sit still? Are they talking a mile a minute? Are they just high-energy kids? Or is this behavior reflective of something else?
At times, these signs seem to hint toward an ADHD-linked disorder. Hyperactivity in kids may just be a symptom of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). In the United States, around 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD. In some children, ADHD characteristics begin as early as 3 years of age. Kids who have this issue show some significant traits like always being on the move, being greatly impulsive, and tending to interrupt conversations. Even adults can have this type of ADHD, called hyperactive-impulsive, but it’s less common among them because hyperactivity tends to lessen with age.
Table of Contents
- 1. What exactly is hyperactivity in children?
- 2. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
- 3. What causes ADHD in children?
- 4. Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
- 5. Types of ADHD
- 6. How to handle a hyperactive child
What exactly is hyperactivity in children?
Hyperactivity is a state of being unusually or abnormally active. It often causes difficulty for the people around the child who is hyperactive, such as teachers, employers, and parents, to manage them. It is more of a problem for schools and parents than it is for the child. But many a time it also affects the kids making them unhappy, or even depressed. Hyperactive behaviour may make a child a target for bullying, or make it harder for them to connect with other children. Schoolwork may seem to be more difficult for them. Kids who are hyperactive are even frequently punished for their behaviour.
Common characteristics of hyperactivity include:
- constant movement
- aggressive behaviour
- impulsive behaviour
- being easily distracted
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood. It is first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.
What causes ADHD in children?
Scientists are yet unclear about what the actual causes of ADHD are. The current research shows that genetics plays an important role and a number of times, ADHD is due to the genes passed down. However, apart from this, a few other risk factors have been identified, which are still under study to be qualified as the actual causes of ADHD. These are-
- Brain injury.
- Exposure to environmental risks like lead during pregnancy or at a very young age.
- Alcohol and tobacco consumption during the time of pregnancy.
- Premature delivery- Shown as per a 2018 analysis.
- Low birth weight- As proved in a 2018 meta-analysis.
- MTFHR gene mutation-The mutation of MTFHR gene prevents the right production of enzymes like serotonin and dopamine. As a result of these being the key players in ADHD, the process down the line is disrupted and ADHD is caused.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
It is normal for children with hyperactivity issues to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. When these symptoms continue,they can get severe, causing difficulty at school, at home, or with friends. Following are the signs and symptoms frequent in children with ADHD. These kids-
- talk too much: They feel a dire need to express their opinions very loudly.
- have a hard time resisting temptation: They often cannot wait for others to fulfil their needs.
- daydream a lot: These children seem to be lost most of the time as their own world satisfies them more.
- make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks: Their inability to understand a situation lands them in such situations.
- have difficulty getting along with others: The high insecurity level in these kids causes them to be uncomfortable around many unknown people.
- forget or lose things a lot: Their tendency to be lost in their own world, makes them lose connection with the real world. Thereby, forgetting their things.
- squirm or fidget: The hyperactive nature makes them uneasy.
- have a learning disability and other behavioural problems. This is quite often times overlooked and this behaviour is attributed to kids’ neglectful behaviour.
Types of ADHD
Based on the symptoms of ADHD observed, 3 main kinds of ADHD can be ascertained in individuals.
1. A predominantly hyperactive and impulsive presentation.
This is said to be the case when the symptoms hint more towards the hyperactivity-impulsivity nature, but not inattention. A few of its symptoms include- being unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly, always “on the go” and acting as if “driven by a motor”, blurting out an answer before a question has been completed. They also have trouble waiting their turn and tend to interrupt or intrude on others.
2. A predominantly inattentive presentation.
It is said to prevail when enough symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months. It includes symptoms of absenteeism like- failing to give close attention to details or making careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities, does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked), avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework), etc.
3. A combined presentation.
It involves both the symptoms of inattention as well as hyperactivity-impulsivity, present for the past 6 months.
How to handle a hyperactive child
1. Cultivating the habit of reading
Reading is always a constructive measure. Give your children the right kind of books to positively shape their thinking, but do not overburden them with books. Give them a few and only the next set once they complete the previous one.
2. Don’t be too harsh on your kids
Every child is unique. Do not be harsh with your child as this may make them hostile. Treat them gently so that they can feel free to discuss anything they want to. Overcontrolling the life of the kids and smothering them all the time makes them uncomfortable. At times, overprotective parenting affects the growth of their child. Thus, try to give them space to make their decisions.
3. Give them more chances to improve
Like others, even hyperactive children deserve a second chance to improve their mistakes. So, give them a 2nd chance. Also, make sure to spare time for your kids. At times, neglectful parenting makes the kids feel lonely and this makes them act out of aggression.
4. Giving them household chores responsibilities
Household chores may seem boring at first glance, but they can transform into a fun family activity when done together. Split your chores amongst your kids, be it gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning the kitchen, cooking, or whatever else you need running in the house. This also inculcates a sense of responsibility in the kids. At times, the
5. Make them play more games
Involve your kids in more fun games like swimming, teaming, martial arts, indoor and outdoor games and swimming. This will help to channel the excess energy in them and at the same time also help them learn and develop an interest in new things.
6. Give them stress-reducing toys
Toys like frisbee-spinner, stress reduction ball and many more are very common in today’s times. They serve as an outlet for the excess amount of energy in an individual, thereby controlling their hyperactivity.
7. Make them do regular exercise/ yoga
Yoga and meditation, when combined, are a way to teach the kids how to channel that energy and live life mindfully. This will develop an awareness of the surroundings, help kids stay focused on the present, and finally, improve their attention span and long-term memory.
8. Balanced Diet
Make sure to skip processed foods, added sugars, salt, and anything that comes packaged or looks unhealthy on the labels. Give your kids fresh, organic, home-cooked meals that are free of preservatives and artificial flavours. Eating clean goes a long way towards improving mood, lifestyle, and overall physical and mental wellbeing.
9. Relaxing music
Good music has a pleasant and soothing impact on one’s mind. It can be used as a means to calm down the excessive energy in one and give it a positive direction.
10. Grounding with the nature
Nature is a healer to all issues. Spending time in the open and good environment around the natural sceneries has a calming effect on the brain.
When to consult a therapist?
Various researches and studies conducted in the field have shown that although there’s no cure for the children with ADHD, the hyperactive nature can be curtailed with appropriate educational support, support and advice for parents and affected children, alongwith medicine. The diagnosis of ADHD can be done in several ways. One step of the process involves having a medical exam diagnosis, including hearing and vision tests, to rule out other problems with symptoms like ADHD. After the problem is diagnosed, it is important to avail of the right treatment method as per the advice of the therapist to get the problem cured.
There are multiple treatment options, and what works best can depend on the individual child and family. To find the best options, it is recommended that the parents work closely with others involved in their child’s life like healthcare providers, therapists, teachers, coaches, and other family members.
Types of treatment for ADHD include
- Behaviour therapy, including training for parents, works primarily on changing thought patterns through various activities. It helps the children cope and adjust and adapt better.
- Stimulants are the best-known and most widely used ADHD medications. Between 70-80% of children with ADHD have fewer ADHD symptoms when taking these fast-acting medications.
- Non-stimulants were approved for the treatment of ADHD in 2003. They do not work as quickly as stimulants, but their effect can last up to 24 hours.
The medications however have varying side effects on the children. It is thereby the last resort to treat this problem.
People with ADHD have a constantly contrasting experience. Though their body appears to be in a state of excess energy and overstimulated, their brain, on the other hand, is under-stimuated. At times, hyperactivity in a person’s behaviour is often the strategy to combat the excessively inertial brain.
Another pointer to be noted about hyperactive kids is the excessively low production of theta waves in their brain. The low production of theta waves is commonly associated with the feelings of calmness, serenity and in drifty states and is usually observed in the time between waking and sleep. This further explains the inactivity of the brains of ADHD kids showing signs of hyperactivity.
A person does not simply “grow out of” ADHD, but learning management strategies can help them enjoy a full life. Without treatment, which may even include medication, a person might experience low self-esteem, depression, and problems related to school, work, and relationships. Anyone who believes that a child may have ADHD should seek medical advice. Moreover, it is also important for the people around such kids to be more understanding and calm towards them, so as to ensure that they do not suffer additional problems.
1. At what age is ADHD usually diagnosed?
Symptoms of ADHD are usually noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school. Most cases are diagnosed when children are 3 to 7 years old, but sometimes it’s diagnosed later in childhood. Sometimes ADHD might not be recognised when someone was a child, and then it is diagnosed later as an adult.
2. What are the 3 main symptoms of ADHD?
The 3 main categories of symptoms of ADHD include-
Inattention, Impulsivity and Hyperactivity.
3. Is ADHD a form of autism?
Though some aspects/symptoms of ADHD and autism tend to overlap and may appear to be, the two are not the same. Both conditions can lead to a lack of social understanding of one’s behaviour and its effect on others. However, there are some crucial differences between the two about which parents and guardians should be aware of to assist specialists with their diagnosis.
- People with ADHD have a difficult time focusing on a single task, so they avoid tasks that demand concentration. Meanwhile, a kid with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) may remain hyper-focused on a topic that fascinates them but has difficulty concentrating or even shows signs of discomfort when forced to focus on something they don’t like.
- Children with ADHD may speak quickly and loudly to have the last or first word in a conversation, whereas children with ASD may have difficulty expressing emotion or thoughts verbally and may avoid eye contact and misinterpret social interactions.
- Thus, characteristics of both include-
- ADHD – The need for novelty and risk-taking.
- Autism Spectrum Disorders – Need for sameness, routine and stability.
4. Can a child with ADHD be intelligent?
Researchers through their various studies have shown that there is no connection between ADHD and IQ levels per se. However, people still continue to contest this proposition.
It is a 2-way sword as ADHD can affect a person’s ability to function at work or at school. This makes it very difficult for them to complete certain everyday tasks, which can cause other people to believe that people with ADHD have lower IQs. On the other hand, a person with ADHD may also experience hyperfocus. This symptom is a state of fixation on something that interests a person. For example, they may show extreme focus on the tasks they enjoy doing. This may cause them to appear more capable at certain school or work activities leading few people to believe that they have a higher IQ.