Does your child have ADHD? Here's how to decide if your child isn't just active

SINGAPORE - Kids tend to be active and impulsive but at what point does this become a problem? On Thursday, a teacher was hauled to court for forcibly pulling a boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) out of his classroom.

Around 5 per cent of Singaporean children are estimated to have this condition, which experts say can hurt academic performance and social skills.

Your child might have ADHD if his or her symptoms started before age seven and has been evident for at least six months.

Here are five symptoms of ADHD:

1. Your child fidgets or squirms in his or her seat and runs and climbs in inappropriate situations.

2. He/she is easily distracted by external stimuli and has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play.

3. Your child often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.

4. He/she is also forgetful during daily activities or loses things necessary for tasks, for example toys, school books, or stationery.

5. You notice that he/she has difficulty waiting turns and often interrupts or intrudes on others, for example, blurting out answers before questions have been completed.

So, what do you do if you suspect your child might have ADHD? Beside seeking professional help, here are some tips to help you and your child to cope with his condition:

1. Set up specific times for things like homework, house chores, playtime, and going to bed. Explain any changes of routine in advance, and make sure your child understands these changes.

2. Be consistent, especially with rules. Keep instructions simple, clear, and short. It is important to explain what will happen when rules are obeyed or broken. Praise them for good behaviour.

3. Watch your child around his friends, as it is hard for children with ADHD to learn social skills. Invite only one or two friends at a time and reward good play behaviour often. Do not allow hitting, pushing, and yelling.

Sources: Institute of Mental Health, SingHealth's magazine Health Xchange