An estimated 60,000 children in Ireland have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), however the true figure could be even higher than this, it has been claimed.
ADHD is a medical/neurobiological condition in which the brain's neurotransmitter chemicals, noradrenalin and dopamine, do not work properly. It is a long-term condition that affects learning and behaviour. Without proper identification, treatment and management, it can have serious and long lasting consequences.
According to the HADD (Hyperactivity Attention Deficit Disorder) family support group, many people in Ireland with ADHD may be going undiagnosed. Currently in this country, there is just one psychiatrist for every 168 children with ADHD and the waiting time for a public consultation can be one year or more.
These figures were highlighted by HADD to coincide with the launch of ADHD Awareness Week, which begins today.
Several events will be taking place during the week, including talks aimed at the parents and carers of children with the condition.
"Bringing up a child with ADHD is not just a case of having to cope with them being fidgety or not being able to concentrate for half an hour or so. ADHD is a condition that affects all aspects of the whole family's life all of the time. Education and life milestones are the most common cause for concern among parents," explained HADD chairperson, Stephanie Mahony.
HADD provides a number of services including educational resources and parent evenings. Its helpline receives up to 4,000 calls every year and to help assist people with ADHD and the parents of children with the condition, it has launched an online resource outlining the top 10 most frequently asked questions about the condition. These include:
-Will my child grow out of ADHD as he/she gets older?
-Where do I go for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD?
-What assistance can schools offer my child?
-How can I help my child build up his/her self-esteem?
Until recently it was thought that people with ADHD ‘outgrew' the condition with the onset of puberty. However, recent studies show that of those diagnosed with ADHD in childhood, 60% will continue with a modified form of the condition into adulthood.
ADHD is four times more frequent in boys than in girls. As inattentiveness (rather than hyperactivity) is the major characteristic of female sufferers, there is a far greater chance of them not being diagnosed. Without proper identification, treatment and management, ADHD can have serious and long lasting consequences and/or complications for an individual.
According to consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, Prof Fiona McNicholas, ADHD Awareness Week ‘is a platform to help increase levels of knowledge and understanding of ADHD among Irish people'.
"It is a common condition, one which can have a huge impact not only on the person living with it, but also on the entire family unit. Early diagnosis and access to treatment is essential for these children so that the symptoms of this disorder can be treated as quickly as possible and the risks of additional impairments are reduced.
"Knowing how to manage symptoms and minimise impairments is imperative as this may allow children and their families the opportunity to live more fulfilled lives with respite from the potential disruption of ADHD," she explained.
For more information on events taking place during ADHD Awareness Week, or for general information on ADHD, including the 10 most frequenty asked questions, call the HADD helpline on (01) 874 8349 or log onto http://www.hadd.ie
I wonder how many of these children who are diagnosed, have the required tests to for thieir noradrenalin and dopamine levels, function and response?
I don't mean to imply that a diagnosis and treatment is not helpful but at the same time, labelling children as having a condition when they do not is not helpful either.
Very few children were diagnosed as ADHD 20 years ago but there wer e plently of children who ran around, had great energy levels, jumped, laughed, played, screamed with laughter and were generally letting off steam - but this was considered being a normal child.