By: Cha Cababaro
My daughter – who turns 4 in April – started using the “Nanay, look at me!” card quite often when she hit 3.5 years old. She uses it to show me that she’s building something awesome (e.g headquarters made out of blocks), or maybe when there’s an achievement she wants me to be proud of – like putting her pants on by herself, falling only twice. It doesn’t come off as annoying to me as she only has my full attention about 4 hours each weekday since I have an office day job. I love that she is committed to having my approval for anything, even the little things. Admittedly, there are times I roll my eyes because she’s asking for attention repeatedly over the same thing. “Kulit naman”, I internally say.
I talk to young moms like me and hear this remark much too often – “Sobrang kulit na nga niya e” – but when should such behavior be a state of alarm? If we feel that the kid is being too much – too attention-seeking, too hyperactive, too disobedient, too unmanageable – at the back of our confused heads, we’re afraid that it might be because of that.
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neuro-developmental genetic disorder whose causes are still unknown. Some studies show that it is due to an imbalance in biochemical substances in the brain while others point to premature birth and nutritional deficiency during pregnancy, among others.
ADHD hyperactive impulses include fondness for playing or the extreme opposite (shyness), continuous loudness or inability to control voice volume, impatience, and inattention impulsivity.
Some manifestations may not point to hyperactivity, like difficulty in following instructions and details, being easily distracted, forgetfulness, difficulty in expressing oneself, and showing disinterest in activities that require mental effort. At times, a combination of the hyperactive and inactive impulses are present.
Before we even think about diagnosing it ourselves, let’s try to answer some of the probable questions:
1. My kid doesn’t get tired easily and is persistent. I also see some of the symptoms mentioned here. Should I suspect ADHD?
Experts do put weight on early diagnosis but if your little one is below 4 years old, it is not encouraged to get tested just yet. The early years are called exploratory stage for a reason. So when the child continually exhibits extreme energy and hyperactivity even when he hits school age, constant updates from the teacher is encouraged. Is the child seemingly more active compared to other children? How does he behave in class? How is his academic performance and reception to rudimentary tasks? The results should help you gauge if professional help is then required.
2. How would I confirm that it’s ADHD?
Suppose that the child possesses the signs and symptoms and that these begin to interfere greatly with his ability to perform in school or interact at home or in public places, then a formal diagnosis from the pediatrician or specialist is needed. If your child is suspected to have ADHD, the doctor will involve you in the evaluation process and further look for developmental areas that may be affected. Depending on the condition, diagnosis can be as early as 7 years, adolescence, and even adulthood.
3. Should my child have ADHD, how should we have it treated?
Treatment and management can vary on what age ADHD has been diagnosed. For pre-schoolers, behavior therapy is the recommended first line of treatment. Children older than 5 years old and adults are usually prescribed drugs to help them maintain focus so they can perform better at school or at work. Individuals who have the condition are actually functional. In fact, world-renown swimmer Michael Phelps learned outstanding discipline even when diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 9. Some have above-average I.Q. The more you understand your child’s case, the better you can assess how to nurture his gifts and capture his interests.
Aside from medication and therapeutic measures, ADHD is to be treated with love, patience, understanding, and support from family, teachers, and professionals. The truth is, people live with ADHD every day and learn to manage their households, expectations, and relationships in healthy ways over time. The key is to find the most effective ways for your family and situation.
Cha is a 20-ish something Christian, solo, millennial Nanay to a soon-to-be 4-year old little girl. While working as a creative in an advertising agency, she finds time making music, travelling, and spacing out once in a while.