UAE: Psychologists urge parents to look out for signs of ADHD in children

Experts say that it is necessary for parents to pay attention to a child's behaviour at home



By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 4 Jun 2022, 4:24 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Jun 2022, 10:39 PM

An 11-year-old boy was giving his parents and teachers a hard time. His mother, Kritika (name changed) tried to discipline him but to no avail.

The boy would harm himself or hurt others whenever he was discouraged from indulging in hyperactive behaviour.

“They complained that he is not attentive in classes and never did his classwork properly. Even at home, when he pushed him to do homework, he was found to be less interested,” said the parent.

Kritika was then advised to consult a clinical psychologist. She visited Arfa Banu Khan, a clinical psychologist, Aster Clinic in Dubai who diagnosed him with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What is ADHD?

“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition that affects people's behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse,” said Dr Shaju George, psychiatrist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai.

Dr Shaju George
Dr Shaju George

Experts say that it is necessary for parents to watch a child's behaviour at home. “Primarily parents should pay attention to the attention span of the child. Children with ADHD have a short attention span and get distracted easily,” said Banu.

“Most of the parents bring their children to us after being referred from school due to academic deterioration or behavioural disturbance. It is after detailed examination that we diagnose the child with ADHD,” added Banu.

Children diagnosed with the disorder often have trouble focusing on a task, fidget, squirm, or are restless. “Children with ADHD keep constantly moving or running around and they get bored easily,” said Banu.

Psychologists in the country say that ADHD affects many children here. They add that children suffering from the disorder must get medical attention.

Signs and symptoms:

Inattentiveness :

  • Having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • Appearing like they are unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • Constantly changing activity or task at hand
  • Having difficulty organising tasks

Hyper-activeness & Impulsiveness:

  • Unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • Constantly fidgeting, unable to concentrate on tasks
  • Excessive physical movement, excessive talking
  • Unable to wait their turn, acting without thinking
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Little or no sense of danger

Social communication deficits:

  • Decreased sharing of interests with others
  • Difficulty appreciating their own & others’ emotions
  • Aversion to maintaining eye contact
  • Lack of proficiency with use of non-verbal gestures
  • Stilted or scripted speech
  • Interpreting abstract ideas literally
  • Difficulty making friends or keeping them

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Restricted interests and repetitive behaviours:

  • Inflexibility of behaviour, extreme difficulty coping with change
  • Being overly focused on niche subjects to the exclusion of others
  • Expecting others to be equally interested in those subjects
  • Difficulty tolerating changes in routine and new experiences
  • Sensory hypersensitivity, like, aversion to loud noises
  • Stereotypical movements such as hand flapping, rocking, spinning
  • Arranging things, often toys, in a very particular manner

Issues that trigger ADHD in children

Experts say that triggers may include stress, poor sleep, certain foods and additives, overstimulation, and technology.

"Once you recognize what triggers ADHD symptoms, you can make the necessary lifestyle changes to control episodes in a better way,” Dr Banu said.

Advice to parents on parenting children with ADHD

  • Value and embrace your child's uniqueness
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle
  • Help your child eliminate distractions and manage time
  • Be specific when giving instructions
  • Use positive feedback
  • Do not punish or compare your child with any other child
  • Try to analyse and control triggers
  • Acknowledge the child when they behave well

Treatment

“Once the child is brought to the psychologist, we do a detailed evaluation and assessment of the condition of the child. The therapy model is framed, parents are Psycho-educated and necessary referrals are made if the child requires any medication or any other intervention along with behaviour therapy,” Dr Banu said.

ayaz@khaleejtimes.com


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