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Learning & Emotional Problems

What Is Hyperactivity?

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When someone says a kid is hyperactive, it can be a sign that the kid might have ADHD. ADHD stands for a condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Kids with ADHD have problems paying attention and sitting still in their seats, and they can be impulsive,which means doing things without thinking about the results. This can cause problems like getting hurt. Some kids who have ADHD can have difficulty in school. Some might have trouble making friends.

ADHD is something a kid is born with. It is not something like the flu that you can catch from someone. A kid has a greater chance of being born with ADHD if he or she has a relative who has ADHD.

What Are the Signs of ADHD?

ADHD can cause kids to act in different ways, depending on the kid who has it. Most kids with ADHD have problems concentrating and paying attention. Some also might have trouble sitting still in class and waiting for their turn. They might yell out the answers before other kids have a chance to raise their hands.

Sometimes they can be disorganized, distracted, or forgetful. They tend to daydream in class. They might lose things and have trouble finishing assignments. They may wiggle around in their seats, move around a lot, talk too much, or interrupt other people’s conversations.

It’s important to remember that everybody does these things once in a while. If you do them sometimes, it doesn’t mean you have ADHD. Kids with ADHD have these problems most or all of the time. This can cause them to have problems both at home and at school.

Kids with ADHD can become worried, frustrated, angry, and sad. Kids need to know that ADHD is a medical problem that can be treated.

If the Doctor Says It’s ADHD

When parents and teachers suspect that a kid has ADHD, the first step is to visit the doctor. The doctor might then refer the kid to a specialist like a psychologist, psychiatrist, or behavioral pediatrician. They are experts who know about kids who have ADHD and other kinds of behavior problems. Part of the doctor’s job is to check for other illnesses that look like ADHD but need different kinds of treatment.

If the doctor determines that a kid has ADHD, then the doctor and parents can begin to work together to find the best way to help. For many kids, this means taking medicine to help them have better control of their behaviors and going to therapy (counseling).

ADHD Medicines

There are a lot of different ADHD medicines. The medicine will not cure the ADHD, but it will will help control the symptoms of ADHD, and that helps a kid do better. Medicine can help kids pay attention, focus better, and be less hyper.

Most kids only take the medicine before school, but some may need to go to the nurse in the middle of the school day to take medicine. The medicine comes as a liquid, pill, capsule, and even a patch. Your doctor and your parents will decide which medicine is best for you.

What Therapists Do

Kids who have ADHD need more than just medicine. They need help learning how to change the way they act. Some also may need help with dealing with their feelings of anger, sadness, and worry.

A therapist (or counselor) can help. Therapists work with kids and their parents to come up with a plan. They will give them ideas about how to make changes at home that will be helpful for the kid with ADHD. If needed, they can help kids learn to build better friendships.

A therapist or counselor may recommend relaxation and behavior therapy. In relaxation therapy, counselors teach kids how to relax and stay calm by doing deep-breathing exercises and relaxing different muscle groups. Behavioral therapy teaches kids and parents to set goals and uses rewards to help kids reach those goals.

Teachers also can reward kids who have ADHD when they show good control, such as being able to sit still during class. Parents can offer rewards at home for paying attention, completing chores, or keeping track of things.

If a kid has ADHD, his or her parents may want to let the principal and teachers know. Why? Because then the kid can get extra help with schoolwork, if needed. The school may set up a plan so things go more smoothly at school, such as giving the kid a quieter place to take a test or extra time to complete work.

Kids who have ADHD can have normal, happy lives. The key to success is having a plan and a team. Who’s on the team? The kid, parents, teachers, therapist, and doctor, who are all working together for the same goal.

Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014