Could my child have ADHD?
ADHD is the most common behaviour disorder in children. Children may struggle to concentrate, cannot control their behaviour and often seem to have too much energy. Parents often notice that their child has less of a sense of danger than other children their age. Symptoms usually become obvious in early childhood around 3-8 years old, but there is also a huge overlap with normal behaviour, as being very active and impulsive are common in this age group. Children who are going through a disruptive time such as moving house, divorce or have had a recent stressful event may also display similar symptoms but these often improve over time. ADHD can present slightly differently in girls, who may sometimes (but not always) have more inattention and less hyperactivity.
- Should I go and see my GP?
A good place to start explaining some of the common features of ADHD
- The restless and excitable child
Read more about what’s normal and what can contribute towards overactive behaviour from the Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Are you worried your child is not learning because they struggle to concentrate and are always restless? (MindEd)
- Should I get my child tested for ADHD? A sensible check-list from the respected US charity Understood
- Signs and symptoms of ADHD and information on treatments for ADHD
This NHS page has a summary of ADHD, common signs, medications and other treatments
This video made by CAMHS for parents and teachers explains how you can support a child with ADHD and gives some top tips.
What about ADHD rating scales?
There are various rating scales available online such as the Conner’s scale or the SNAP-IV scale but these need to be used with a proper clinical assessment to be really useful as they can be misleading on their own. Parent questionnaires exist in short forms and long forms.
- The short Conners form is available here and the short SNAP-IV form here but the longer forms are usually sent to you together with a teacher’s questionnaire if your child has been referred for assessment. In some children (often girls) there may not be obvious symptoms of being hyperactive but they do struggle to focus, get organised or complete tasks. The short forms might be useful to do when you go to see your GP and could be sent with a referral if appropriate.
My child has ADHD and I want to know more
ADHD can be very difficult for children and their parents as children may be seen as naughty or out of control. However, there are many ways to help your child once the diagnosis has been made. These include behavioural treatment, medication, counselling and special education support in school. Not all children need medication and those that do may only need to use it for school. Many adults with ADHD can learn coping strategies as they get older and may be able to stop the medication if they were using it when they were younger
What’s it like parenting a child with ADHD?
Books about ADHD for Parents
- Understanding ADHD: Practical Tips for Parents
by Dr. Christopher Green and Dr Kit Chee.Good reviews, from the UK and brief.
- Understanding girls with ADHD: How They Feel and why they do what they do by Kathleen Nadeau, who is an American author, so some of the resources aren’t relevant to the UK but the content is highly rated.Books for teens and young adults
Books about having ADHD for children
- All Dogs Have ADHD by Kathy Hoopman. A great book with photographs of dogs which are used to explain common symptoms of ADHD with humour and sensitivity. It also focuses on some of the positives of this diagnosis and describes some coping mechanisms.
- Can I tell you about ADHD? A Guide for friends, family and professionals by Susan Yarney. A short book written for children with ADHD with a well-written section at the back for parents.
- Zak has ADHD aimed at children 3-7 yrs explains common symptoms of ADHD in storybook form.
- Focus Ninja aimed at around 4 -8+ years, helping them to learn strategies to stay focused.
- Check Mates by Stewart Foster A story about ADHD, family and friendship, highly rated by parents and young people. Suitable for 9-10+ years and older. Also available in your local library as part of the Reading Well scheme.
- Cory Stories: A Kid’s Book About Living with ADHD by Jeanne Kraus, Written for younger children, has good reviews. Gives a more positive view of ADHD than some books with several short stories.
- The Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD by John Taylor. American but mostly relevant to the UK with good reviews. Age 8-10yrs. Funny as well as informative with quiz sections
Websites and Support Groups
- YoungMinds Supporting your child with ADHD
- ADHD Foundation – This website is being updated but they will be running courses for parents and caregivers and there are information sheets you can download.
- ADDIS (The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service)
Provides information and resources about ADHD and the variety of approaches that can help including behavioural therapy, medication, individual counselling, and special education provision. Also can link you to local support.
- Hyperactive Children’s Support Group
Helps hyperactive/ADHD children and their families, providing information, particularly regarding hyperactivity and diet.