"ADHD is present in roughly 3% of the population"

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ADHD is a neuro-behavioural developmental disorder. In those who are affected by the condition, attention deficit symptoms are coexistent with hyperactivity. Those affected have greatly reduced ability to focus attention on a task, to control impulsive urges and to stay settled in one place.

 Thought to affect boys more than girls by a ratio of 3:1, ADHD is present in roughly 3% of the population and is one of the most common childhood onset behavioural conditions. The causes of the disorder are not fully understood but are thought to be a result of genetic and neurobiological factors associated with the brain's development. Research suggests that 30 - 50% of those diagnosed will continue to have symptoms into adulthood; symptoms which are usually managed with a combination of psychological and behavioural therapies, counselling and medication.

 Because many children show a tendency to be very active and to easily be distracted, it is important to observe a child carefully before concluding that ADHD is present. Doctors will certainly want to take a detailed history and to observe a child in a range of settings over a six month period before making a diagnosis. They will be looking to see that the child is abnormally active, impulsive and inattentive and that these traits are interfering with his achievements. A record will be made of the child's behaviour as he studies at school, as he plays outside with friends and at home when he is interacting with other family members.

 The condition ADHD is recognized as having three subtypes: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive; predominantly inattentive and thirdly, a profile which combines both hyperactive-impulsive symptoms and inattentiveness. The majority of diagnoses fall into the third category.

 Symptoms of predominantly inattentive ADHD include being easily distracted; flitting from activity to activity; taking longer than normal to commence a task; daydreaming; seeming not to listen or to follow instructions and finding it hard to focus on any activity which isn't highly preferred.

 Symptoms of predominantly hyperactive ADHD include restlessness; fidgeting; impulsivity - sometimes endangering the individual; running around; constant activity inappropriate to the setting and constant talking.

 For the parent who has concerns about their child's development and attention, the best course of action is to talk to their family GP and to share their concerns with the class teacher who will be very willing to offer help and advice.