Symptoms of ADHD will appear over the course of many months, and include:
- Impulsiveness: a child who acts quickly without thinking first.
- Hyperactivity: a child who can't sit still, walks, runs, or climbs around when others are seated, talks when others are talking.
- Inattention: a child who daydreams or seems to be in another world, is sidetracked by what is going on.
- Children with ADHD are also more likely to be depressed, anxious and obsessive, and may have some problems with speech, language and coordination.
ADHD is also called attention deficit disorder (ADD) or hyperactivity. The disorder shouldn't be confused with normal, boisterous childhood behaviour.
What causes it?
An inherited imbalance of neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit nerves signals in the brain). One of the main problems in ADHD seems to be that the brain fails to filter the huge amount of stimulation we receive every minute of every day.
Diet may be a factor - parents have long claimed that food additives can aggravate hyperactive behaviour and research by the Food Standards Agency and Southampton University has shown that certain mixtures of artificial food colours, alongside sodium benzoate - a preservative used in ice cream and confectionary - are linked to increases in hyperactivity.