Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (referred to as ADHD or ADD) is a group of symptoms that usually present in childhood and may continue into adulthood, and which primarily affect concentration and attention. A number of children and adults have some level of inattention, distractibility, and impulsive and/or hyperactive behaviour, but to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD your child has to have a minimum number of symptoms in different settings which significantly impact on their day-to-day functioning.
In general, ADHD is referred to as three subtypes (Predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and mixed type). The child may have symptoms related to different subtypes at different stages in their life.
The "H" in AD(H)D represents hyperactive, although not all children with ADHD are hyperactive. If your child is described by your doctors as having ADHD, this may mean: ADHD-predominantly inattentive, ADHD-predominantly hyperactive, or ADHD-predominantly mixed.
ADHD is not a new condition and has been described in children for over 100 years. Like most psychiatric conditions, there is no blood test, brain-wave test or brain-imaging procedure that can reliably diagnose ADHD; it is diagnosed after a clinical interview, examination and exclusion of other disorders, assisted by the use of a series of questionnaires.
There is a number of drug and non-drug treatments that should be considered when managing a child who has ADHD and is not functioning in the home and school environment. Managing ADHD can be a complex journey where good communication with your doctor and other allied professionals will help with finding the perfect balance for your child.