| the Allergy Site Navigator
You are in > Hyperactivity and ADHD
For Home > Home
For our son,
Tell tale signs
Hyperactive children with ADHD have
had problems with hyperactive, impulsive behaviour since before
age 7. Mothers of children with ADHD sometimes even remember
that their baby was very active in the womb. Also, children with
ADHD are often described by their parents as having been fussy
and difficult to quiet as babies.
Signs of a lack of attention
Difficulty following instructions
Not seeming to listen to parents or teachers
Not being able to focus on activities
Frequently losing things needed for school or at home
Not being able to pay attention to details
Being unable to plan ahead effectively
Appearing very distractible
Is your child's behaviour a problem in several different
ADHD is less likely if your child only shows behaviour problems
at home, but not in other places, such as at school or at the
grocery store. ADHD problems often become worse where there is
more activity and noise. Children with ADHD show some of the
signs of hyperactivity in several different settings, for
example, in the classroom, on the playground, and at home
watching TV. (Children with ADHD are often able to stay focused
on the fast pace of cartoons and video games. But even though
their eyes are on the screen, they're fidgeting with their arms
When your child is misbehaving, does he or she seem to be off in
Children with ADHD cannot control at least some of their
hyperactive, impulsive behaviour. Suspect ADHD if your child
appears off in "another world" and does not respond to you when
he or she is climbing or misbehaving in some way. In contrast,
children who misbehave on purpose often will look to see how
adults react to their misbehaviour.
Are you more angry with your child or more frustrated?
Sometimes it's normal for parents to get angry with their
children, especially when they misbehave on purpose. The
hyperactivity of children with ADHD is irritating, but parents
can sense that their child simply can't--as opposed to
won't--sit still or quiet down. The parents feel more frustrated
Can your child stick to activities, or is the house full of
unfinished games and projects?
Children with ADHD often lose interest in an activity in 5
minutes--or even less. They go from one activity to another, and
another and another. You may ask your child many times to clean
up, but he or she will not even be able to focus long enough to
Has disciplining your child worked?
Parents of children with ADHD usually have "tried
everything"--from ignoring their child's misbehaviour, to
"time-outs," to spanking--but nothing seems to work
child as hyperactive
Not the easiest thing to do. Very
often doctors and psychologists will disagree about the
diagnosis of a specific child. Don't accept a final
diagnosis of your child until ALL the information
available has been presented. It is crucial to talk to school
teachers, nursery teachers, adults the child is exposed to in
social activities, family members and any other people who work
with or teach your child on a regular basis.
Also, ADHD children or suspected ADHD
children have on average, higher IQ's than their peers. So to
complicate matters, the patient is also often given to
misleading diagnosis for personal reasons. This is not common,
but should not be forgotten when considering an ADHD diagnosis.
Top of page
from this type of condition is minimal. A danger exists that the
condition, if left untreated or undiagnosed, can result in the
impaired development of a child resulting from learning
difficulties. Please have your child tested at the earliest
opportunity if you suspect the child might be hyperactive or
suffer from ADHD
Top of page
Additives have been linked with ADD, so try to
limit your child's intake of additive-laden products,
particularly those that contain the colourings tartrazine
(E102), sunset yellow (E110), ponceau 4R (E124) and erythrosine
(E127) and the preservatives E210, E320, E321 and E219 (benzoic
acid and its salts). Although research hasn't shown such clear
links between sugar and caffeine and ADD, foods and drinks that
contain lots of rapidly absorbed sugar, especially if they also
contain caffeine, as colas do, can make children appear wired. A
hydrated body assists concentration, so rather than giving your
child a sweet, fizzy drink, encourage them to drink lots of
water. Provide other healthier alternatives: instead of a
chocolate bar, give them fruit (which provides a source of
slow-release sugar); and serve them meals that contain a healthy
balance of slow-release carbohydrates (in the form of pasta,
rice and wholegrains) and vegetables and proteins.
If you suspect that a specific food
- oranges, for instance - triggers behavioural changes in your
child, keep a very detailed food diary (in a low-key way
in case your child starts using the issue of food against you)
of everything that they eat and drink and how they're behaving.
If you then think that you've identified a connection, seek
advice from a professional before cutting anything out of your
child's diet. The last thing you want is for their bad behaviour
to be exacerbated by a lack of vital nutrients.
Top of page
Perhaps the most significant recent
research finding in relation to ADD is the link between certain
fatty acids and behaviour. The brain contains high levels
of highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs), particularly DHA
(docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eiosapentanoic acid). These are
thought to play a vital role in the way in which the brain
transmits signals, especially those that regulate moods and
behaviour, to the body. Because studies have found that the
brains of children suffering from ADD seem rather low in
these fatty acids, it's worth increasing your child's intake of
The richest source is oily fish, such as salmon,
mackerel, trout, herrings and fresh tuna (unfortunately, the
tinning process involved with tuna removes the majority of the
beneficial fish fatty acids). Salmon fishcakes with a yoghurt
and chive dip, fresh tuna sandwiches, jacket potatoes with tuna
toppings or pasta sauce made with tuna, olives and tomatoes,
smoked-mackerel flans and pÔtÚs thinly spread over 'soldiers'
are therefore all good foods to include in your child's weekly
Your child may rebel against having oily fish a few times a
week, however, in which case you may need to enlist the aid of
supplements that contain both EPA and DHA. You can buy
these from pharmacies and health-food stores, but because the
suitable dose for your child depends on their age and other
factors, I'd advise you to discuss the issue with a dietician or
doctor before handing out supplements like sweets. (If your
child is vegetarian, try sprinkling linseeds on cereals or using
linseed oil in salad dressing. These are a particularly rich
sources of alpha-linolenic acid which is then converted to EPA).
As with allergies, a product or
treatment can cure or help one individual and yet have no effect
on another. This adds to the frustration felt by many parents
and sufferers. The important thing is not to become discouraged.
Keep a diary of foods, exclude certain products, wait a while,
and then try again. There are great support forums out there,
where you will find a lot of sound advice and feedback from
other parents and sufferers. Try the
new Allergy forum, for posting ADHD related questions.
Top of page
What medicines are used to
Some medicines used to treat attention-deficit and hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) are called psycho stimulants. Some of these
drugs are methylphenidate (brand names: Concerta, Ritalin),
dextroamphetamine (brand names: Dexedrine, Dextrostat) and
pemoline (brand name: Cylert). Although these medicines have a
stimulating effect in most people, they have a calming effect in
children and adults with ADHD.
Other types of medicine sometimes used to treat ADHD include
clonidine (brand name: Catapres), desipramine (brand name:
Norpramin), imipramine (brand name: Tofranil) and buproprion
(brand name: Wellbutrin).
Do the medicines for ADHD have
All medicines can have side effects. Psycho stimulants may cause
a decreased appetite, a stomach-ache or a headache. The loss of
appetite can cause weight loss in some people. This side effect
seems to be more common in children. Some people have insomnia
(trouble sleeping). Here are some ways to avoid side effects
(like a fast heart beat, chest pain or vomiting) when taking
Use the lowest possible dose that still controls the
hyperactivity. Your doctor will tell you the right dose.
Take the medicine with food if it bothers your stomach.
Plan to use the weekends as drug-free days. This means, don't
take any ADHD medicines on Saturday and Sunday. Ask your doctor
before you try this.
Children who lose weight while taking medicine for ADHD can have
extra healthy snacks during the day.
How should medicine for ADHD
It's important to take the medicine just the way your doctor
says--not more often and not less often. Follow your doctor's
advice even if you think the medicine isn't working. Be sure to
talk with your doctor if you think the medicine isn't working.
It's best to take the medicine 30 to 45 minutes before a meal.
Good times to take this medicine are before breakfast and before
lunch. Lunch-time doses can be given at school for some
children. If your child can't take this medicine at school, tell
your doctor. Your doctor might suggest a long-acting form of the
medicine instead. The long-acting form of this medicine should
not be crushed, broken or chewed before swallowing. The
long-acting forms are taken only once a day, right before
It's also important to know that some of the medicines used to
treat ADHD are called "controlled" drugs. There are special
rules about the way controlled drugs can be prescribed, because
these drugs could be used the wrong way. The prescriptions for
controlled drugs, like methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine,
must be refilled at the drug store every month. At some doctors'
offices, these prescriptions are only written on 1 day of the
Will the medicines also help
with other problems?
The medicines used to treat ADHD have been shown to improve a
person's ability to do a specific task, such as pay attention or
have more self-control in certain situations. It is not known
whether these medicines can improve broader aspects of life,
such as relationships or learning and reading skills.
How long will this treatment
People with ADHD should be checked regularly by their doctors.
During these check ups, the doctor will want to hear what the
parents have to say about a child with ADHD. Your doctor may
suggest that your child take a break from his or her medicines
once in a while to see if the medicine is still necessary. Talk
with your doctor about the best time to do this-- school breaks
or summer vacation might be best. The teacher's comments about
the child are also important. The doctor will want to check a
person with ADHD after the medicine dose has been changed. The
length of time a person takes the medicine depends on each
person. Everyone is different. Some people only need a short
treatment, for 1 to 2 years. Some people need treatment for
years. In some people, ADHD may continue into adolescence and
Top of page
We will add stats soon.
Top of page