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Understanding ADHD and the Conditions that Mimic It

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Understanding ADHD

ADHD child and teacher

Credit: US Department of Education (CC License by 2.0)

Many of us experience some degree of distraction and lacking focus from time to time. However, persistent inability to sit still, pay attention, or control impulsive behavior can be clear signs of a greater mental health issue. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, is a growing issue among children and parents alike. The most recent statistics show that the condition is common, impacting 3.62% of boys and 0.85% of girls between the ages of five and 15 living in the UK. Throughout the world, the prevalence rate of ADHD is an estimated 5%, although some research suggests the number may be lower because of initial misdiagnosis.

Having ADHD can be debilitating for both children and adults, although some are thought to outgrow the symptoms of the condition by the time they reach adolescence. For those who do not, the need for a proper diagnosis is crucial to long-term success in managing the mental health condition as a child or an adult. However, like many other mental health issues, ADHD is widely misunderstood and ultimately, improperly diagnosed. To ensure a child – or adult – with ADHD is given the best course of action for his or her symptom management and treatment, recognising the warning signs of the condition alongside common conditions that mimic ADHD is essential.

Recognizing the Signs of ADHD

ADHD is broadly defined as a hyperactivity disorder that creates behavioural nuances among adults and children. The most common signs of ADHD, particularly among children between the ages of six and 12, can be broken down into two broad categories: inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsiveness. Warning signs under the inattentiveness category may include:

  • A short attention span
  • Being easily distracted during activities that require focus
  • Consistent, careless mistakes in schoolwork
  • Forgetfulness or losing track of items
  • An inability to stick to tasks or assignments that are time-consuming
  • Constantly changing activities
  • An inability to organize or prioritise

When it comes to hyperactivity and impulsiveness, red flags warning of ADHD often appear as:

  • An inability to sit still in calm or quiet surroundings
  • Fidgeting
  • An inability to concentrate on tasks or assignments
  • Excessive physical movement or talking
  • Being unable to wait their turn
  • Interrupting conversation
  • Acting without thinking
  • Minimal sense of danger

While these symptoms alone do not represent an urgent concern for most parents of hyperactive children or adults who may have a hard time focusing, any combination of persistent warning signs should warrant a discussion with the doctor. Getting the right diagnosis for ADHD at the early onset of warning signs can reduce the problems children and adults face, including underachievement, poor social interactions, and discipline issues.

The Conditions that Mimic ADHD

Although ADHD is fairly prevalent, particularly among young children and teens, the mental health condition is often misdiagnosed. This takes place either in the form of an ADHD diagnosis when it is not truly the culprit of underlying symptoms, or when another condition mimicking symptoms of ADHD is diagnosed incorrectly. In either case of misdiagnosis, the ramifications for children and adults can be devastating.

According to a group of medical negligence solicitors in the UK, ADHD misdiagnosis is incredibly common. An inability to focus on certain tasks, reduced attention spans, and declining behaviour can be simply overlooked as “normal” child or teen tendencies. In some cases, doctors may suggest a more disciplined approach to parenting or a tighter routine to help combat the symptoms. When ADHD is actually the cause, these changes do little to help the child or teen in working toward a solution. Among adults, ADHD is often described as laziness or a lack of motivation, for which recommendations are rarely made. ADHD symptoms may also look eerily similar to other common conditions, including digital eye strain.

In the hyper-connected world in which we live, the use of electronic devices is prevalent. Among children, many are used to working with a mobile device or tablet every day, and in some cases, for hours at a time. Adults are also prone to use their smartphones or tablets more often than is recommended for optimal eye health. Digital eye strain may be the result, and its symptoms often resemble ADHD warning signs.

For example, digital eye strain in children may cause irritability, a perceived lack of focus, or an inability to complete tasks and stay organized. Declining school work may be the end result, but ADHD may not be the cause. Instead, this outcome has to do with the stress placed on the eye and the discomfort it causes. Misdiagnosing digital eye strain for ADHD may lead to unnecessary prescriptions regimens that lead to changes in mood or behaviour – and symptoms that do not ease over time.

Among adults, an inaccurate diagnosis of another disorder may be provided when ADHD is the real reason for symptoms. Common conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder may present with similar warning signs, and the wrong diagnosis can be detrimental to individuals. Similarly, non-mental health issues, including dehydration and low blood sugar may also lead to inattentiveness or an inability to focus. Receiving the right diagnosis creates better opportunities to start the right plan of treatment, potentially avoiding negative side effects of unnecessary medications or a lack of treatment at all.

Getting the Right Diagnosis

For parents of children who exhibit symptoms of ADHD or a mimicking condition, as well as adults who experience hyperactivity or inattentiveness, seeing a doctor is crucial to getting the right help. ADHD is diagnosed through a a series of steps, including an open and honest discussion surrounding symptoms, the timeline for when they started, and the severity of the issues related to the symptoms. In some cases, GPs will refer a child or an adult to a specialist for an assessment that takes a closer look at physical and mental health. For many children and adults concerned about ADHD, this assessment is meant to rule out other potential causes of symptoms, as there is no singular test that can diagnose ADHD.

Once a proper diagnosis is received, individuals living with ADHD can begin a treatment plan that works best for managing symptoms. Treatment options include prescription medication, either stimulants or non-stimulants, and psychotherapy which often focuses on cognitive behavioural therapy tactics. For some, a combination of these treatment plans is the best course of action in managing ADHD symptoms. However, the first step is understanding how the mental health condition presents itself, and the importance of getting an accurate diagnosis from the start.

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Top Mistakes To Avoid While Traveling With Small Children

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family traveling

Traveling With Children

Mistakes To Avoid While Traveling With Small Children

Many parents absolutely dread the experience of traveling with small children.

It’s easy to see why, since the last thing anyone wants is having to deal with kicking and screaming in public, let alone in a cramped space such as the interior of an airplane.

But even if traveling with small children is always going to have at least some degree of stress involved in it, the good news is you can minimize that stress as much as possible by avoiding a series of seemingly insignificant mistakes.

Here are the top mistakes you will be wise to avoid while traveling with small children:

You Don’t Keep Your Kids Entertained

Older kids and teens are fully capable of entertaining themselves while traveling on the road or on a flight, but the same can’t be said for younger children.

This is why you, as their parent, are responsible for coming up with ways to keep them entertained. The best strategy is to have a minimum of three activities planned that they can do while you travel (games, apps, movies, etc.) and then introduce these activities one at a time.

You Don’t Carry Cash

You may need cash for miscellaneous expenses, for public transportation, or for any other expenses where cash is not accepted. In other words, it’s a good idea to always carry cash for convenience and for emergencies.

In a foreign country especially, carrying cash is important because credit cards may not always be accepted. You can use a money remittance service to convert your money into the currency you need.

You Don’t Focus On Enjoying The Journey

It’s not just your destination that needs to be fun. You can also focus on enjoying the actual journey as well. For example, if you’re driving, you could make the journey fun by planning out your route to include any number of scenic or historical sightseeing places.

You Don’t Make Getting Rest and Sleep A Priority

Sleep and rest should always be a big priority while you travel, and this is even more important for younger aged kids especially. Try to adhere as close as you can to their normal bedtime routines despite the change in timezones, and don’t think you’re wasting time by returning to the hotel room in the middle of the day for a quick nap and downtime.

If anything, getting enough rest in will help you to better enjoy your trip, and for younger aged children especially it help them be less cranky as well. In short, making rest a big priority for your family should simply make your trip a more enjoyable experience for you.

Avoiding Mistakes While Traveling With Children

Try to work on avoiding each of these mistakes that we have covered, and you should find that the process of traveling with kids is far easier than you may have otherwise anticipated or previously experienced it being.

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Educational Presents for Children

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Educational Presents

Not only is it difficult getting the right gift for a child these days, but it can also be daunting to find one that is educational, too. There are a variety of toys and gadgets that might do nothing in the way of teaching the little one new things. However, there are also items that can help him or her learn better in school or just find out more about the things that make up our wonderful world.

To make it slightly easier for parents to make up their minds about what they should select for their kids, we have put together a list of products that might make great educational presents. Check them out below.

How about a microscope?

If you’re thinking of teaching your kid the basics of biology, a microscope might make just the right type of gift. Of course, you will have to keep the age of the child in mind so as to avoid getting devices that are simply far too complex to handle by a very young individual.

Nevertheless, a note must be made in relation to the design of some microscopes. While compound alternatives can be hefty and hard to work with, some choices are very easy to use. These are called USB microscopes, but in most cases, you’ll notice that they are, in fact, magnifiers, not real optical devices the same caliber as a microscope.

The neat thing about USB models, though, is that the market’s overflowing with some affordable alternatives, so if you do decide to pick one of these in the beginning, at least you’ll know you haven’t spent a fortune. Besides, you can never know whether you’ll manage to convince the little one to actually use the microscope, right?

Telescopes and the like

Other optical instruments that might make great gifts range from telescopes and monoculars to spotting scopes and binoculars. While some telescopes are primarily designed for astronomy purposes, the rest of the devices that we have mentioned should mostly be used for terrestrial viewing.

Consider the usefulness of each of these options. It’s true that some telescopes can be hefty and as such, might not be too easy to take to a field nearby your home so as to watch the stars without any light pollution. So, they might not be winners when it comes to portability.

By contrast, monoculars and binos can be used in most situations. If you’re planning a trip to a safari with the rest of your friends and family, you should consider getting a kids’ binocular for this purpose exactly. You won’t be able to use the same pair of binoculars that you might own already, and that’s because kids’ eyes are close-set and let’s face it, binos for adults are way too heavy to be held conveniently.

Stimulate their creativity

An educational present doesn’t necessarily have to be categorized as scientific in order for it to be truly useful. Perhaps the kid you’re looking to surprise is into painting, creating handmade jewelry, or even repairing things around the house. There are kits for all of these activities, so don’t hesitate to consider one if you see that the child is particularly interested in one of these pastimes.

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