The behavioural issues and causes surrounding ADHD in children

In part one of understanding ADHD, we talk about the causes of ADHD and the behavioural issues parents of these children need to deal with

By Zoha Tapia

Is your child constantly fidgety or restless? Or does he zone out every once in a while and is unable to concentrate? Or does he seem to be perpetually misbehaving? Well, maybe your child is suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Niti Sapru says, “Approximately 5 in a 100 children have this disorder. ADHD presents itself in childhood and in many cases persists into adulthood.” This is usually characterised by the triad of inattention, impulsive behaviour and developmentally inappropriate over activity.

ADHD children are difficult to control, are argumentative, aggressive and find it difficult to focus. “Since attention and control of one’s activity and impulse are required to pursue any activity, these children are academically unable to achieve up to their potential,” says Dr Sapru.

Along with this the parents of these children need to deal with a whole lot of behavioural issues as well. “ADHD children have a difficulty in organising things and understanding sequences. This creates many behavioural problems within them. When caught doing something wrong or when they can’t follow a sequence they get frustrated and tend to back answer. Their level of focus, attention and concentration is very low. Hence they get fidgety and restless. They need to move around and do something which may end up being an intrusion for others.  Another problem faced could be hyper focus, i.e. if they are concentrating on one thing their mind is closed from everything else. Hence, if spoken to when doing a particular activity they will seem rude as they won’t pay attention,” explains Dr Sapru.

ADHD behavioural problems will make the child extremely distracted which causes them to miss details and forget things. Unless they are doing something they truly enjoy and are able to focus on, they get bored extremely easily. They end up with problems in school as they find it difficult completing school work, they lose things, often stay recluse, bully people or get bullied, often daydream and remain confused. This is termed as bad behaviour by the peers and teachers.


Causes of ADHD

When a child is first diagnosed with ADHD, parents often wonder what went wrong. “Is it our parenting that went wrong or is it the education system which has caused it?” However, there has been very little evidence to prove this and the causes of ADHD are normally linked to neurobiology and genetics.

  • Neurochemical imbalance: “A dysregulation of two of the neurotransmitters of the brain i.e. the chemicals – Dopamine and Noradrenaline, that are used by the brain to transmit information from one part of the brain to the other is said to be one of the causes of ADHD,” says Dr Sapru. These chemicals are critical for the executive functions of the brain. She further adds, “These chemicals help the brain in planning, focussing, initiating desired actions, controlling the undesired behaviours and postponing actions to attain the desired results or goal or wanted outcomes.”

  • Genetic factor: ADHD is more common in the first degree relatives i.e. parents or siblings of affected children than in children without this condition.  Compelling evidence shows that ADHD tends to run in families.

  • Acquired environmental factors: These include pregnancy and delivery complications, low birth weight, traumatic brain injury and exposure to alcohol, nicotine and other substances of abuse in the womb. “Exposure to high levels of lead and pesticides in the preschool years may increase the risk to develop ADHD. A British research shows a possible link between consumption of certain foods with artificial colours or additives to ADHD,” warns Dr Sapru.

Contrary to popular beliefs ADHD is not caused by laziness, lack of motivation, indiscipline, poor parenting or teaching and too much of visual media such as television and computer games, though, these practises do worsen the symptoms of ADHD.

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