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What is Attention Deficit Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is an internationally recognised medical condition affecting at least 5% of school aged children. It is characterised by the core behavioural symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

The inattentive, overactive and impulsive behaviours of children with AD/HD can be difficult to manage and can place excessive strain on children, parents and families. In addition, AD/HD can have a significant disruptive influence on a child’s social development and relationships.

What are the characteristics of ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder also called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), is a developmental disability estimated to affect 5-10% of all children. The disorder is characterised by three predominant features:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Impulsivity
  • Restlessness and/or Hyperactivity (in many but not all cases)

The disorder is most prevalent in children and is generally thought of as a childhood disorder. Recent studies, however, show that AD/HD can and does continue throughout the adult years. Current estimates suggest that approximately 50-65% of children with AD/HD or ADD will have symptoms of the disorder as adolescents and adults (although other research suggests 70-80% is a more realistic figure).

Is ADHD a new condition?

This is by no means a new condition. A German scientist, Heinrick Hoffmen described the condition in the 1880s. Sir George Still wrote a paper in 1902 about difficult children resistant to normal discipline (what we now know as the condition AD/HD), he wrote,

  “There is the likelihood, nay almost the certainty, that
children with the more profound and permanent
disorders of moral control will, if not protected from
themselves, sooner or later bring public disgrace
upon themselves and the families to which they belong,
and possibly to be punished as criminals in spite of the
evidence that their acts are the outcome of a mental state
just as marked as the more generally recognised imbecility
or insanity” GF Still 1902

How do I get help?

Contact ADD-NI between 10.00am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday

What treatment is available for ADHD?

There is no cure or “quick fix” when treating AD/HD. Widely publicised “cures” such as special diets have, for the most part, proven ineffective. Effective treatment of AD/HD generally requires three basic components:

Education about the disorder – Understanding AD/HD is vital. Read books; talk to professionals; attend seminars; join a support group; learn as much as you can.

Training in the use of behaviour management – Structure is the most important factor in treating AD/HD. It may be necessary to reorganise your routine and lifestyle to accommodate this.

Medication when indicated – Can dramatically improve attention span and is effective in about 80% of cases, when the dosage is adjusted correctly.


Where do I go if I think I or my child has AD/HD?

Contact us during office hours - 10.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday