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ADHD: Kids on the Go

Philip couldn't sit still at the dinner table. He wriggled, giggled and tilted his chair like a rocking horse, much to his parents' dismay. Finally, tipping too far, he fell backward, but not before grabbing the tablecloth and pulling the whole meal down with him.

So goes "The Story of Fidgety Philip," a poem written in 1845 by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman. It's one of the first descriptions of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that makes it difficult for a child to pay attention and/or control behavior.

More than 150 years later, whether in the home or at school, ADHD continues to be a challenge for parents, teachers and children – both in terms of managing the condition and in understanding its true nature.

Among the common misconceptions:

Myth: ADHD is a learning disability.

Fact: ADHD and learning disabilities are separate conditions that are diagnosed and treated differently.

Myth: Parents cause ADHD.

Fact: Neither parenting nor schools are to blame. Instead, ADHD appears to be caused by genetics and biology, not environment.

Myth: Kids with ADHD are always hyperactive.

Fact: Some children with ADHD are hyperactive and impulsive, but others are mostly inattentive. They can have difficulty concentrating and paying attention but may not be fidgety or restless. Some children are a three: hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive.

Myth: Children can be tested for ADHD.

Fact: There is no single test for ADHD. A diagnosis is based on a number of factors, including conversations with parents and teachers.

Myth: Too much sugar causes hyperactivity.

Fact: There's no clear evidence that any sugar or sweetener is directly related to hyperactivity or ADHD. Instead, the excitement of a party or other event - not the sugary food – may be the reason for a child's behavior.

Myth: Medicine can cure ADHD.

Fact: Medicine controls symptoms only on the day it's taken. More than half of people who take medicine as children continue to need it as adults.

Supportive adults and appropriate treatment can help a child with ADHD lead a productive life. That's why it's important to know the truth about ADHD.

What are the signs of ADHD?

Children with ADHD have one or more of the following signs:

  • Hyperactive: Always on the go, squirms, fidgets, roams around
  • Impulsive: Impatient, acts without thinking
  • Inattentive: Easily distracted, fails to pay attention to details, makes careless mistakes, rarely follows instructions, skips from one uncompleted activity to another

Most children have these behaviors at times, so it's important to talk with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Source: Healthy Mind Healthy Body®, November 2008.

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