ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is one of the most common childhood developmental disorders and often lasts into adulthood. Some people with ADHD show mostly inattentive symptoms like difficulty organizing or finishing a task, paying attention to details, or following instructions. Others with ADHD show mostly hyperactive-impulsive symptoms like fidgeting and talking a lot, finding it hard to sit still for long, interrupting others, or speaking at inappropriate times. Many people with ADHD have a combination of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Although ADHD can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed, and some symptoms may improve as the child ages.
- ADHD is a common disorder in children. Based on data from 2016, about 1 in 11 children had ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
- Boys are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as girls.
- ADHD symptoms can change over time. Hyperactive/impulsive symptoms may decrease, but inattentive symptoms often remain.
- ADHD symptoms like inattention and impulsivity can put children’s health at risk from injury and disease.
- In most cases, ADHD is best treated with behavior therapy, specifically parent training, and medication.
- The most common treatment for ADHD is medication—about 2 in 3 children with ADHD take ADHD medication.
Having a healthy lifestyle can help children with ADHD deal with stress and difficulties in their daily lives. In addition to recommended treatments like behavioral therapy and medication, a healthy lifestyle, including healthy eating habits, sleep, and physical activity, can help children with ADHD manage their symptoms.
School-based management strategies shown to be effective for ADHD students include behavioral classroom management and organizational training. Schools can also make changes to the learning environment to remove barriers to learning and to provide support. Schools can offer individualized special education services, depending on the child’s needs.
Behavior therapy is most effective in children younger than 12 years old when it is delivered by parents. When parents become trained in behavior therapy, they learn and strengthen positive parenting skills and strategies to help their child with ADHD succeed at school, at home, and in relationships.
Although ADHD is not a preventable condition, here are some tips for early detection and better management:
- If you think your child may have ADHD, talk with your child’s healthcare provider. The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, like a pediatrician.
- After diagnosis, you and your child’s healthcare provider will discuss options for care. In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication.
- For preschool-aged children (4–5 years of age) with ADHD, behavior therapy, particularly training for parents, is recommended as the first line of treatment before medication is tried.
- Schools are an important part of treatment. Public schools can also help with diagnosis and with finding out what kind of support your child may need.
- ADHD can put children’s healthy development at risk. In addition to recommended treatments like behavioral therapy and medication, a healthy lifestyle can help children with ADHD manage their ADHD symptoms.
- CDC sponsors the ADHD National Resource Center, a program of Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD), with trained staff to answer questions about ADHD (1-800-233-4050). Their website has links to information for people with ADHD and their families.