What is the attention deficit disorder?

Children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) are more restless and impulsive than others and have difficulty concentrating on one thing at a time. They are easily bored and distracted, and have difficulty completing tasks. They do not pay attention and have difficulty learning. This leads to serious schooling and behaviour problems. If they are very hyperactive the condition is called the attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Hyperactive children are disruptive in the classroom and difficult at home. They cannot sit still.

The cause is usually unknown but it is more common in boys. There may be a family history of the condition. The diagnosis is usually made at about the time schooling starts. However, the correct diagnosis is often missed and the children are regarded as naughty or intellectually disabled. Attention deficit with hyperactivity is particularly common in children with foetal alcohol syndrome. Some children are worse after eating certain foods.

These children need early diagnosis and educational help. The parents need to understand the nature of the disorder.

Some, but not all, school children with attention deficit disorder respond dramatically to methylphenidate (Ritalin) taken after breakfast on school days. Recent findings suggest that the medication should be taken both during school days and holidays.

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