Childhood is a fragile time in a person’s life. The experiences you have can impact your development in a way that carries significance for the rest of your life. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a problem that can affect the way you learn and relate to the world around you. It’s a chronic disorder that affects millions of children and adults in the United States. Children growing up with ADHD may be easily distracted, they may struggle with subjects in school, and they may feel isolated. If ADHD is undiagnosed or untreated, they may also struggle with discipline and behavioral issues because they have trouble sitting still and remaining quiet.
ADHD can be treated through psychotherapy, parenting techniques, and medications, but what happens when it’s left untreated?
ADHD In Infants And Preschoolers
ADHD is often identified when a child gets to school, and it becomes clear that something is holding them back or causing them stress. However, children that struggle with ADHD later in life, often exhibit certain symptoms and behaviors that parents and guardians recognize in hindsight. One study found that infants with what they call “regulatory problems” may be at an increased risk of developing ADHD. Regulatory problems may include excessive crying, sleep problems, and feeding problems.
The study notes that most babies experience these issues at some point, but they usually come and go transiently. When these issues last into preschool years, it may herald a problem. Early intervention can be used to help a child cope with regulatory problems. Still, studies that look at early issues in infants have the benefit of hindsight. It might be more difficult to recognize ADHD symptoms in infants as they are happening.
ADHD starts to show clearer signs in toddlers and preschoolers. They may be extremely active, inattentive, emotional, impulsive, and have difficulty focusing.
ADHD is often diagnosed when a child reaches school. Children that have difficulty concentrating can start to fall behind other students in their schooling. Completing tasks on time can become very difficult, even if they’re intelligent and gifted in particular subjects. Untreated ADHD also starts to show clear developmental consequences. It can start to cause grades to fall, and children with ADHD may get into more and more trouble for causing class disturbances. As a child begins to isolate themselves from their peers, it may cause them to be more antisocial, aggressive, or depressed.
Long Term Developmental Issues
If ADHD is left untreated, it can start to take a toll on a child’s development. They may develop poor self-esteem, they’ll continue to have trouble interacting with others, and they are at an increased risk for developing a substance use disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, children with ADHD are also more accident-prone and may have more injuries than other kids. They also point out that ADHD is often seen with other disorders like conduct disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety, autism, and mood disorders. Treatment can help avoid some of these issues, especially when it’s started early.
ADHD in Children
ADHD is a chronic condition affecting millions of children across the United States each year. ADHD in children is extremely common and consists of hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and an inability to pay attention. Many children are labeled as “problem children” or “troublemakers” because of undiagnosed ADHD, but how does ADHD affect learning? When a child can’t pay attention, listen, or put effort into their schoolwork, they’re unlikely to learn much. ADHD makes children restless, fidgety, talk too much, and sometimes become class clowns.
Unfortunately, children can’t help it. Without treatment, the behavior is likely to persist. So, how does ADHD impact learning? Unfortunately, the effects can be profound. Most children with ADHD start school before a proper diagnosis. Teachers are most often the first to notice possible signs of the condition. If you’re concerned, you must bring your child to the doctor for an evaluation. Fortunately, Ritalin and other prescription medications can treat the condition.
ADHD in toddlers is less common, but ADHD in children is widespread. Every student with ADHD is different. Some require assistance paying attention and managing any distractions they might have, while others will need support staying organized. Fortunately, teachers can help your child succeed by helping them get their work started or finishing it once they start. You must speak to their teacher to see what can be done. Depending on your child’s needs, a teacher can:
- Help them with organization
- Show empathy by being encouraging, warm, and positive
- Praise the child’s efforts
- Have simple routines and rules in their classroom
- Seat your child away from potential distractions
- Provide instructions that are brief and clear
- Help them stay on task
- Allow your child to slow down and take their time
- Provide extra time to finish their school work
- Give them extra breaks to move around the classroom
- Teach your child to check their work and catch any mistakes
Teachers are extremely underrated in what they can do for children with ADHD. They always see the best in their students, and they can provide them a clear path to grow, learn, and succeed even once they finish their class.
Treating ADHD in Children
The Mayo Clinic states that children should not receive a diagnosis of ADHD unless the core symptoms appear before they turn age 12 and cause significant issues at home or in school. While there is no test for ADHD, doctors will perform the following to determine if the child has the condition:
- Conduct a medical examination: This will allow them to rule out any other potential conditions that cause your child’s behavior.
- Collect information: Your child’s physician will collect all information pertaining to your concern, including current medical issues, personal and family medical history, and school records.
- Conduct interviews: The primary care provider will ask you, other family members, teachers, and others who know your child well to fill out a questionnaire about their behavior.
ADHD signs can be hard to diagnose in children sometimes. This is especially the case with girls because they present symptoms differently than boys. You will need to see a specialist for a formal diagnosis. If a diagnosis is made, the most common treatments for ADHD are medication, behavioral therapy, educational services, and counseling.
Stimulants are the most common medications that treat ADHD. Stimulants raise and balance neurotransmitters in the brain and improve symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. Amphetamines like Adderall, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse are the most commonly prescribed. However, methylphenidate like Focalin, Ritalin, and Concerta are also effective. Stimulant medications come standard in both short- and long-acting forms. The dosage will vary from one child to the next.
Fortunately, medication is proven effective in helping your child with their education and might be worth investigating further.