Ajay is a 10 yr. old boy, studying in one of the best schools in the city. His academic & extra-curricular record is good and he has many friends. Ajay is naughty at times, for e.g., he starts walking around the classroom once he finishes his class work. At home, his mother feels he is very high on energy. Sometimes, when he does a lot of mischief, his mother talks to him about his behaviour and he understands. However, lately Ajay’s mother has started reading a lot of stuff about hyperactive children and worries if Ajay suffers from ADHD.
Carol is another 10 yr. old girl, studying at a premier institute, and is a very bright & energetic child. Her grades at school are usually below average. She does not seem to be forming lasting friendships. Every parent – teacher meeting, her parents speak of Carol’s inability to concentrate while studying and her teachers reiterate the same. They also talk of how Carol keeps walking around the classroom even while the teacher is explaining concepts and if forced to sit, she always squirms in her seat. Even when someone is trying to talk to Carol about these issues, she does not seem to be paying attention. Carol’s teachers and parents have also heard about ADHD.
With the progress of technology, information is now at the tip of our fingers. As much as it is a blessing to be always informed, fortunately or unfortunately, due to the availability of more information than required, all of us have become experts in all the fields that one could think of. In both of the above cases, the parents and teachers of Ajay and Carol, have heard about the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and seem to have a reason to believe that their ward may be suffering from the same.
Approximately 3 to 5 % of the current school age population is suffering from ADHD. The symptoms may become evident during the child’s infant years and may continue into adulthood. ADHD broadly has three clusters of symptoms:
- Individual does not pay attention to details and makes careless mistakes
- Distracted easily and has trouble focusing
- Seems not to listen when being spoken to directly
- Has trouble following directions and remembering things
- Unorganized, and trouble planning ahead or finishing activities
- Often loses or misplaces items
- Constantly moving and fidgeting
- Often gets up from seat at times when sitting quietly is expected
- Always moving around
- Talks excessively
- Has trouble playing quietly
- Appears to always be on the go
- Screams out answers without waiting to be called on
- Has trouble waiting for their turn
- Frequently interrupts and disturbs others
- “Intrudes” on other people’s conversations or activities.
If we compare the above symptoms with the cases discussed here, we can see that some of these symptoms are present in either Ajay or Carol or both. Does that mean that either one or both of them have ADHD? No, it does not. ADHD can be diagnosed only if the behaviour displayed by the person in question causes significant disruptions to activities of daily living, one of them being the child’s academics here.