Parents are distressed to receive a note from school saying that their child "won't listen to the teacher" or "causes trouble in class." One possible reason for this kind of behavior is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Even though the child with ADHD often wants to be a good student, the impulsive behavior and inability to pay proper attention in class interfere. Teachers, parents and friends know that the child is "misbehaving" or "different," but they might not be able to tell exactly what is wrong. A child and adolescent psychiatrist can diagnose and treat the child with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The "hyperactivity" symptoms in ADHD may include excessive running or climbing in young children, or extremely restless and fidgety behavior in older children. In contrast to a normal high level of activity in some children, hyperactivity is haphazard, poorly organized and not goal-directed. ADHD is ten times more common in boys than in girls.

A child who has ADHD shows several of the following characteristics:

Without proper treatment, the child may fall behind in schoolwork, and friendships may suffer because of poor cooperation in playing and other social activities. Self-esteem suffers because the child experiences more failure than success and is criticized by teachers and family who do not recognize a health problem.

Research clearly documents that medication can be helpful, and that medication prescribed for ADHD works best as part of a comprehensive plan of treatment including ongoing evaluation and, often, medical psychotherapy for the child, help for the family, and consultation with teachers.

If a child shows behavior problems like those of ADHD, parents may ask their pediatrician or family physician to refer them to a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who can diagnose and treat the child for this illness. By meeting with the child and adolescent psychiatrist, parents can learn how to cope with their child's problem. In addition, the child psychiatrist often helps teachers and school officials work out ways to teach more effectively those children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides this important information as a public service to assist parents and families in their most important roles. It is neither ethical nor responsible to use the internet for consultation about specific children or families. The Facts for families sheets may be duplicated and distributed free of charge as long as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is propely credited and no profit is gained from their use.

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