A distracted child who has trouble concentrating ... attention problems are very real in children. But ADHD, attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, is based on very specific criteria and this disorder affects only 5% of children and no more.
How to distinguish true illness from inattention, or ADHD, from simple attentional difficulties?
- It is not always easy! Attention is an intellectual function that develops with age: the younger a child is, the more he is inattentive, and the more he grows up his attentional abilities develop. It is therefore not surprising to perceive in the child a natural inattention.
- In reality, the clinical signs of the pathology are about the same as those of normal distraction, but they have own characteristics : they are early (they appeared in the toddler), durable and express themselves whatever the environment (at school, at home, at grandparents, at the football club).
- This disorder is defined by a triad of symptoms - inattention, impulsivity (eg acting without thinking) and motor instability - which may exist in isolation or associated with others.
- To be able to make a reliable diagnosis, this implies that a real survey is conducted, with information coming from different sources: the child himself, parents but also teachers, babysitters, etc. Some fairly sophisticated tests can also help with the diagnosis.
Do we know the causes of this disease?
- Experts believe that ADHD may have a genetic origin inducing a vulnerability in the attentional areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex.
- Another hypothesis suggests that dysfunction of the dopamine network, a brain neurotransmitter, may be responsible.
- ADHD cases are also common in preterm children, those who have experienced alcohol or maternal substance abuse during pregnancy, or those who have suffered head trauma. Sleep disorders can also lead to ADHD.