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Early identification of issues improves odds for social and academic success later.
It is important to recognize and treat ADHD early because the condition has a profound effect on learning and academic development, according to Dr. Mark Mahone, director of the department of neuropsychology at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.
Children whose symptoms begin in early childhood are at highest risk for academic failure and grade repetition.
Research shows that children with ADHD have abnormal brain development, meaning that ADHD has a biological basis that often makes it a lifelong condition.
According to Mahone, parents should pay close attention to the behavior of their young children. In children aged 3 to 4, the following behaviors are often associated with a diagnosis of ADHD by the time children reach school age:
- Avoids or dislikes activities that require more than one or two minutes of concentration
- Loses interest in activities after a few minutes
- Talks a lot more and makes more noise than other children the same age
- Climbs on things despite being told not to
- Unable to hop on one foot by age 4
- Almost always restless and insists on getting up after being seated for only a few minutes
- Acts fearless, which results in dangerous situations
- Warms up to strangers too quickly
- Behaves aggressively with friends
- Has been injured after moving too fast or running after being told to slow down
If parents observe these symptoms, and have concerns about their child’s development, they should consult with their pediatrician or another developmental expert, says Mahone.
“There are safe and effective treatments that can help manage symptoms, increase coping skills and change negative behaviors to improve academic and social success.”
Mahone and his colleagues used neuroimaging. They found that children with ADHD have a smaller caudate nucleus (which is a small structure in the brain associated with thinking and motor control) than other children their age. The researchers hope their research leads to earlier interventions for children with ADHD to improve educational outcomes.
Although the causes of ADHD aren’t really known, studies suggest that genes play a role. Scientists are also looking into whether brain injuries, diet and social environment contribute to the disorder.
For more information on ADHD, visit http://www.cdc.gov
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