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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral condition most commonly presenting in childhood. Primary symptoms of ADHD include problems with attention, hyperactivity, and poor impulse control. These symptoms vary depending on the child, and children could even have a combination of symptoms.

It can be overwhelming if you think your child may have ADHD. At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, we know this process can seem daunting, but we’re here to help. For children under 6, we recommend a developmental screening at the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center. For children over 6, your needs may be better served by contacting the Psychology Department at 314-577-5667.

Types of ADHD

There are three major types of ADHD:

ADHD, Combined Type. This is the most common type of ADHD, and it is characterized by being hyperactive or impulsive, as well as impaired attention (distractibility, poor sustained mental effort).

ADHD, Hyperactive/Impulsive Type. This is the least common type of ADHD and it is often believed to reflect a Combined Type presentation, but with severe behavioral symptoms that might be overshadowing the less noticeable inattentive symptoms. These symptoms could be poor impulse control, hyperactive behaviors, and more general difficulties related to behavioral self-regulation, such as interrupting or personal space boundaries.

ADHD, Inattentive and Distractible Type. Characterized by problems with distractibility, poor sustained mental effort, difficulty initiating tasks, problems organizing materials and/or information, and poor planning and time management, this type of ADHD was previously referred to as Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Causes of ADHD

There are many possible causes of ADHD, but research suggests there is a strong genetic component and it tends to run in families. Other factors that may contribute to ADHD include low birth weight, smoking during pregnancy, and some severe illnesses in infancy. It is important to know that “poor parenting” does not cause ADHD, but good parenting practices are the key to symptom management.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms are as individualized as your child and may vary. Some of the most common signs to look for include:

Inattentive Symptoms

  • Making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty sustaining attention, or easily distracted
  • Seeming not to listen
  • Failing to follow through or finish tasks
  • Difficulty organizing
  • Losing things
  • Being forgetful

Hyperactive/Impulsive Symptoms

  • Fidgeting
  • Not staying seated
  • Excessive movement or restlessness
  • Difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • Being on the go
  • Excessive talking or interrupting
  • Blurting out answers
  • Difficulty waiting turns

Treating ADHD

Your child may need more than one type of treatment to meet his or her specific needs. Medication, including stimulant or non-stimulant medication, and behavior management training for parents and teachers have been shown to be the most effective treatments.

At SSM Health, our development pediatricians, psychologists, counselors and social workers can help with behavior management. You can also talk to your child’s teacher, the school counselor or the school psychologist about support for your child at school.

Other treatments that could be helpful include:

  • Education for both parent and child about diagnosis and treatment
  • School services and supports
  • Organizational skills training
  • Cognitive-behavior therapy for a co-occurring condition

If you think your child may have ADHD, we recommend making an appointment with one of our qualified SSM Health developmental pediatricians for an evaluation. Our team will help determine what the most appropriate next steps should be to help your child reach his or her full potential. ADHD is not a disorder of ability – most children with ADHD are intelligent, but may need some additional help with tasks, and we’re here to help. Schedule an appointment today to learn more.

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