What is ADHD?

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What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobiological disorder that can have serious consequences, including school failure, poor relationships, driving-related accidents, and other negative life outcomes.  Hence, early identification and treatment is critical.

  • ADHD affects 5-12% of the population or approximately 1 or 2 students in every classroom
  • ADHD interferes with an individual’s capacity to:
    • Self-regulate activity level (hyperactivity)
    • Inhibit behaviour
    • Attend to the task at hand (inattention) in developmentally appropriate ways

Hyperactivity: constant movement in chair, getting up and running around when other are seated; also may manifest as talking so much that other cannot get a turn

Impulsivity: acting quickly without thinking first

Inattention: frequent daydreaming, lost in another world when should be focused and concentrating, sidetracked by what is going on around them

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

Clinical diagnosis of ADHD is made by a health professional (i.e. clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, pediatrician, or general practitioner) based on criteria for the disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – 4th Edition – Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR).

To assist in the diagnosis, information about the child is gathered from many sources (i.e. developmental history, interviews with parents and teachers, behaviour rating scales, review of performance, academic achievement, and language skills.

After a diagnosis, you should meet with your child’s teacher to:

  • Discuss the treatment plan (what the doctor has suggested for your child).
  • Explain the interventions (what professional services, i.e. psychologist; etc.) your child may be receiving.
  • If intervention involves medication, explain the medication your child is taking and advise the teacher what to monitor at school (i.e. behaviour, academic performance, mood).
  • Discuss changes in the classroom, including changes in teaching approaches and seat placement.
  • Discuss what you can do at home to help your child.

Building Effective Communication Between Home and School

The symptoms, challenges, and successes associated with ADHD may change as your child gets older. Each year your child is likely to have one or more new teachers.

This means that it is important to re-build communication between home and school at the start of every school year. But, remember, once a year is NOT enough.

Effective home-school communication is:

  • Regular – occurs more than once or twice per year
  • Varied – takes many forms, both informal and formal, such as written notes, telephone calls, parent-teacher conference, casual corridor chats, daily log books
  • Balanced – is about successes as well as challenges
  • Takes action & useful – sets out goals and the steps to get there

For additional information, please contact a Learning Disabilities Resource Facilitator at (905) 884-7933 x21.