ADHD in children

Children not wanting to do their homework, children quarrelling with siblings or being unable to sit still – there are hardly any parents who did not yet experience similar situations with their children.

Facts are: Every child is restless at times and able to concentrate sometimes better and sometimes worse. It's also normal that children are uncooperative at one time or another. But when exactly will such signs or symptoms become a problem? And isn't ADHD actually just an invented illness, a "fad diagnosis"?

What is ADHD?

Most people have already heard the term 'ADHD'. But many don't know what it means. The abbreviation ADHD stands for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. In concrete terms, it means that those affected suffer from a neurobiological disorder in the brain, causing problems in terms of attention, impulsivity and behavioural restlessness. This last aspect gave rise to the colloquial term for ADHD: the "Fidgety Phil syndrome". Experts estimate that between two and six percent of all children and adolescents are affected by ADHD.

How to detect ADHD?

The following three major symptoms are typical for ADHD:

However, they need not necessarily occur all at the same time. Also, these symptoms may differ widely in manifestation and degree from one child to the other. Thus, some children are much rather hyperactive while others – girls, especially – suffer from attention or focusing problems and accordingly are often considered "dreamers".

More about the symptoms

Does my child have ADHD?

Parents often spend a long time intensively reflecting on the question of whether their child actually has ADHD. Socially conspicuous behaviour, hyperactivity or inattentiveness need not inevitably be manifestations of ADHD. It is accordingly essential to look closely: Not only the child must be considered in its personality and development, but its family and environment as well.

The following signs may be indicative of ADHD, but it's not an absolute:

The child...

  • … is constantly moving about and can hardly stay on a chair
  • … often talks like clockwork and interrupts other speakers
  • … cannot focus on one thing and is easily distracted
  • … makes many careless or inadvertent mistakes and does not tend to details
  • … has difficulties getting organised
  • … unusually often loses or forgets things

For the ADHD diagnosis, it is also crucial, for example, that symptoms exist for at least half a year and bring about problems in different areas – such as family, school and recreation.

This test can help you make an initial assessment.

ADHD diagnosis

It is often a long way of suffering until the diagnosis of ADHD in children is arrived at and thus the cause of many problems finally detected. It is usually the paediatrician or a child psychiatrist who will make the diagnosis. To this end, the doctor will query the child's parents, make a physical examination of the child and additionally conduct special tests.

ADHD is most frequently diagnosed in children of primary school age. Because this is where young children first have to sit still for longer periods of time and concentrate on fixed assignments. Yet, first anomalies can frequently be detected already in infants (e.g. unusually long crying phases, pronounced eating and sleep disorders).

More about the diagnosis

ADHD: Causes

The causes of ADHD have not yet been clarified to date. It is known, however, that different genetic and neurobiological factors are interacting. Moreover, ambient factors – such as the lack of structured days – may apparently also promote an intensification of symptoms.

More about ADHD causes