Dealing with attention disorder


Raj is a nine-year-old studying in class four. His parents are very worried about the way he behaves. Almost everyday they hear complaints from school on his abysmal performance. Raj’s teachers are also equally worried.

Raj lacks attention, and cannot concentrate on anything even for few moments. He does not seem to listen even when spoken directly, and time and again fails to complete his home works and other duties. Besides, he often moves his hands or feet, squirms in seat, runs about or climbs excessively, has difficulty in waiting for his turn, and blurts out answers before questions have been completed.

His parents have been noticing such behaviours ever since he was three years of age. And they report that the problem has only been increasing with time.

There are so many other parents suffering from similar problems with their children. What Raj has is not a simple behavioural disorder, but an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a type of mental disorder usually first diagnosed in childhood. The disorder causes three major impairments in children: they are inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. They are often reckless, and prone to accidents. They have learning difficulties due to poor attention and lack of persistence. Symptoms like restlessness and overactivity can also show up before school age.

American Psychiatric Association (1994) says that ADHD is prevalent in about three to four percent of children. The chances are three to four times higher in boys than in girls.

The causes of ADHD have not yet been clearly established. However, it seems that the disorder has heterogeneous aetiology, both biological and psychological. Many reports also suggest that there is neurodevelopment impairment in children with ADHD, which may be caused due to birth complication. Social factors, over stimulation by caregivers during early development can also result in ADHD. It has been mostly noticed that hyperactivity gradually lessens with age. However, when overactivity is severe and accompanied by a learning failure, or low intelligence, the condition may persist in adult life.

Although there is no full treatment of ADHD, it can be effectively controlled through stimulant drugs and behavioural modification methods. Parents and teachers also need good advice on how to take care of the child to reduce chances of inadvertently reinforcing overactivity.

So if your child is inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive, s/he may be suffering from ADHD. It would do much good to consult the school counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professionals and start giving proper treatment. It would reduce the chances of having impairment in his or her emotional, academic and social life later on.

Adhikari is a Psychotherapist at Norvic Escorts International Hospital