Information Sheet - ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?
ADHD is a common behavioural disorder that affects an estimated 8%-10% of
children and young people. Children and young people with ADHD are highly
impulsive, have difficulty focussing and may speak or act without thinking. There
are three different types of ADHD; an inattentive type, a hyperactive-impulsive type
and a combined type. A combined type ADHD is the most common diagnosis.
How do you know whether a person has ADHD?
Children and young people with ADHD may display the following patterns of
Inattentive type ADHD
Difficulty paying attention to detail
Difficulty concentrating on tasks or activities
Difficulty listening and following instructions
Difficulty organising themselves or a task
Tendency to lose/misplace things and to forget things
Easily distracted from a task or activity
Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD
Always seeming to be ‘on the go’
Tendency to interrupt conversation
Being impulsive without thinking through the situation
Difficulty remaining still
Combined type ADHD
A combination of the above behaviour patterns
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Children and young people with ADHD may experience difficulties maintaining
friendships or gelling with a group as a result of these behaviours.
What causes ADHD?
Nobody knows the exact cause of ADHD, and there may be a number of different
factors at work.
Hereditary: The disorder may hereditary. A child or young person with ADHD is
four times more likely to have a relative who had the same childhood difficulties.
Chemical imbalance: Many doctors believe that ADHD is caused by a shortage of
the brain chemicals that help a child or young person to concentrate, plan and carry
out their activities, and control their emotions.
Stress: Some experts think that stress may act as a trigger to the problem.
Diet: Certain foods and food additives may make a child or young person more
irritable and frenetic. Cutting out caffeine and sugary drinks and snacks can be a
good start in tackling ADHD behaviours.
What can be done to help?
Ideally a child or young person with ADHD should be recommended a package of
treatments involving behaviour management, counselling or psychotherapy, and,
possibly, medication by their GP.
Many young people often want to get the attention of adults around them. Young
people with ADHD can be very difficult to manage and tend to attract negative
attention (arguing, shouting etc.), and so will continue to behave badly. This cycle,
which is called negative behaviour reinforcement, needs to be broken. To do this,
behaviour management encourages adults to notice when a young person is
behaving well, and to reward them. This is known as positive behaviour
It is important to maintain boundaries and have discussions around why some
behaviour is unacceptable, as the individual may not immediately understand why
something is wrong. Certain language should be avoided, such as using 'stop'
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instructions, such as, 'stop shouting', and using language such as, 'please speak
more quietly', instead. Behaviour management techniques take time and great
patience on everybody's part, but the techniques have been shown to be very
In addition, placing more structure into an individual’s daily life can help them
organise themselves better. Getting a good routine going is essential. It is important
that they take an active part in learning, are helped to set their own pace, and
provided with the right content level, variety and interest.
Social skills training
Social skills training teaches young people how to manage their relationships better,
by reading the hidden signals of communication. It teaches them to understand
what impact their behaviour has on other people, so they can change it.
Counsellors are trained to help young people to talk through the reasons for their
behaviour and its consequences. Individuals diagnosed with ADHD almost always
feel bad about themselves. Counselling can help them to tackle this, gain more self-
control, focus their attention, and find better ways of learning and organising
One of the most popular stimulant drugs, Ritalin, was virtually unknown in Britain at
the beginning of the 1990s, but between 2001-2002, prescription rates rose by 22
per cent. The medication can't cure the problem, but it can help the individual to
think more clearly, understand better and feel calmer and more in control of
Guidelines for Prince’s Trust staff and those responsible for
delivering Trust programmes
There is a stigma and lack of understanding about ADHD which can make it difficult
for the individual to talk about their problems. Staff are advised to become familiar
with the issues surrounding ADHD (see below for more information).
Where can I get more information?
ADDISS - 10 Station Road, Mill Hill, London NW7 2JU -Tel. 020 8906 9068, fax: 020
8959 0727- email: firstname.lastname@example.org - web: http://www.addiss.co.uk/
The National Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder information and support
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British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) - BACP House, 35–
37 Albert Street, Rugby CV21 2SG - tel. 0870 443 5252, fax: 0870 443 5161 - minicom:
0870 443 5162, email: email@example.com - web: http://www.bacp.co.uk/
See website or send A5 SAE for details of local practitioners
Hyperactive Children's Support Group - 71 Whyke Lane, Chichester, West Sussex
PO19 2LD - tel. 01243 551 313, fax: 01243 552019 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- web: http://www.hacsg.org.uk/
The HCSG offers access to local groups throughout the UK
YoungMinds - 48-50 St John Street, London EC1M 4DG - tel. 020 7336 8445, parents
info service: 0800 018 2138 fax: 020 7336 8446 - web:
A national charity committed to improving the mental health of all babies, children
and young people
Youth Access - 1–2 Taylors Yard, 67 Alderbrook Road, London SW12 8AD
tel. 020 8772 9900, fax: 020 8772 9746 - email: email@example.com
Information on youth counselling
http://www.adders.org/ - Provides information and practical help
http://www.chadd.org/ - Information for children and adults with ADHD
Helen Dupays – Prince’s Trust Mental Health Project Manager –
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