Almost 700,000 children in the UK have ADHD, however, it's estimated that there are a further 2 million people in the UK that have ADHD but have not been diagnosed.
By learning the signs of ADHD from an early age, it can become easier for you to undergo the assessment process.
In honour of ADHD Awareness Month, we've broken down all the essential information you need when learning if your child may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
When is ADHD Awareness Month?
ADHD Awareness Month is celebrated every October to raise awareness and educate the public about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is an opportunity to dispel harmful stereotypes and misinformation, and to share accurate information based on scientific evidence and peer-reviewed research.
The event was founded by three American organizations: the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). However, ADHD Awareness Month has since been adopted by some UK and European schools as an opportunity to educate their communities about the condition.
Each year, the event organisers select a topic to focus on. In 2023, the chosen topic is "ADHD: Understanding a Shared Experience." This topic highlights the fact that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. It also emphasises the importance of shared understanding and support for people with ADHD and their families.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way people pay attention, control their impulses, and manage their activity levels. It is one of the most common mental disorders in children and can continue into adulthood.
Is ADHD a disability in the UK?
While ADHD can be defined as a Specific Learning Difficulty, ADHD is also considered a learning disability in the UK under the Equality Act 2010. This means that people with ADHD have the same rights as people with other disabilities, such as the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination.
To learn more about specific learning difficulties, you can study a free online course.
Symptoms of ADHD in children
ADHD can present in a variety of ways, and symptoms can vary in severity from child to child. The most common symptoms of ADHD include:
• Inattention: Children with ADHD may have difficulty paying attention to details, make careless mistakes, have trouble staying focused on tasks, and appear not to listen when spoken to directly. They may also have difficulty following through on instructions, organizing tasks and activities, and avoiding or disliking tasks that require sustained mental effort.
• Hyperactivity: Children with ADHD may have difficulty sitting still, fidgeting and squirming, running around or climbing in inappropriate situations, and having trouble playing or doing activities quietly. They may also talk excessively.
• Impulsivity: Children with ADHD may have difficulty waiting their turn, interrupting others, and acting without thinking. They may also have difficulty controlling their emotions and may have frequent outbursts.
It's important to remember that symptoms of ADHD are unique to each individual, for example, some people may only show signs of inattention by being easily distracted.
Others may show a combination of multiple unique symptoms, this is known as 'Combined ADHD' and is also the most common type of ADHD.
12 Signs Your Child May Have ADHD
While ADHD is unique to each individual, it has been suggested that some of the main symptoms of ADHD in children and adults include:
- Difficulty paying attention to details.
- Making careless mistakes.
- Trouble focussing on tasks.
- Appearing not to listen when being directly spoken to.
- Difficulty following instructions.
- Avoiding tasks that require long concentration.
- Difficulty sitting still.
- Trouble playing or doing activities quietly.
- Difficulty with being patient.
- Interrupting others during conversation.
- Difficulty controlling their emotions.
- Constant fidgeting.
How to get an ADHD diagnosis
If you are concerned that your child may have ADHD, the first step is to talk to your paediatrician or other healthcare provider. This can be done through the NHS or through a private healthcare provider. They can assess your child's symptoms and determine if an ADHD referral to a specialist is needed.
Assessment for ADHD
Once you have a referral, you can contact the specialist's office to schedule an appointment. The assessment will typically involve a review of the child's symptoms, medical history, and developmental history. The specialist may also interview you and your child's teachers or carers.
Right to choose ADHD
Since 2018, NHS patients in England have had the legal right to choose their own mental healthcare provider and team. This means that if you are unhappy with the amount of waiting time or the number of people ahead of you on the referral waiting list for your or your child's ADHD assessment, or if you simply prefer to see a different provider, you can choose to do so. The provider must be based in England and offer NHS services.
Not all patients, GPs, or other clinicians are aware of this new right, so it is important to be informed. If you are interested in using the Right to Choose scheme, you can talk to your GP or contact a mental health charity for more information.
How the Right To Choose System Works
Patients in England have the Right to Choose their own mental healthcare provider and team, subject to the following conditions:
- The patient's NHS practice must be in England.
- The patient's GP must agree to make a clinically appropriate outpatient referral. (The decision to make a referral is the GP's responsibility and is separate from the Right to Choose.)
Patients cannot use the Right to Choose if they are:
- Already receiving mental health care for the same condition following an elective referral.
- Referred to a service that is commissioned by a local authority, such as a drug and alcohol service (unless commissioned under a Section 75 agreement).
- Accessing urgent or emergency (crisis) care.
- Accessing services delivered through a primary care contract.
- In highly secure psychiatric services.
- Detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.
- Detained in a secure setting, such as a prison, court, secure children's home, certain secure training centres, immigration removal centres, or young offender institutions.
- Serving as a member of the armed forces. (Family members in England have the same rights as other residents of England.)
The patient can only be referred to a provider that:
- Has a commissioning contract with any Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or NHS England for the required service.
- Have the service and team led by a consultant or a mental healthcare professional.
ADHD test for kids
There is no single test that can diagnose ADHD. However, there are a number of assessment tools that can be used to help diagnose ADHD and assess the severity of the symptoms. These assessment tools may include questionnaires, interviews, and behavioural observation checklists.
How can I support my child with ADHD?
If you think your child may have ADHD, there are a number of diagnosis and treatment options available. Treatment may include medication, therapy, or a combination of both. Medication can help to improve symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Therapy can help to teach children coping skills and strategies for managing their ADHD.
There are also a number of things you can do to support your child's daily life at home and in school. At home, you can create a structured and predictable environment. You can also break down tasks into smaller steps and provide positive reinforcement when your child completes tasks.
In school, you can work with your child's teacher to develop a plan to help them succeed. Often, schools may provide additional learning support through a learning assistant to help your child learn in a way that caters to their symptoms.
Want to Learn More about ADHD?
Our fully-funded Specific Learning Difficulties will teach you about difficulties such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia, including how to get assessed and how individuals can be supported with their studies.
Visit our course page for more information.