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Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health cover, highlights eight symptoms of ADHD and emphasises the importance of early detection and intervention for enhanced quality of life.

“ADHD, although common, remains misunderstood,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Recognising key symptoms of this condition is the first step toward seeking professional consultation and getting the necessary support a child needs to improve academic achievements, relationships, and overall well-being.”

What is ADHD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition characterised by persistent inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with daily functioning.

Contrary to misconceptions, ADHD does not result from poor parenting or lack of discipline. Instead, it’s often rooted in genetics and brain structure.

While the exact prevalence of ADHD in South Africa varies, some estimates suggest that ADHD affects around 5-10% of South African children, most of whom are diagnosed before age 12. Still, a diagnosis can be made as early as four years old.

Many individuals diagnosed with ADHD in childhood continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. However, the way these symptoms manifest can change over time.

The Eight Key Symptoms of ADHD

The key symptoms of ADHD in children include the following:

  1. Short focus: Children with ADHD often find it particularly challenging to concentrate on uninteresting or mundane tasks. While anyone can get bored, those with ADHD might struggle even more with functions that don’t stimulate them.
  2. Over-activity in various forms: This isn’t just about physical movement. While many think of hyperactivity as constant fidgeting or running about, it can manifest as talking excessively or having heightened emotional reactions.
  3. Impulsivity: This involves making hasty decisions without considering the consequences. For instance, a child with ADHD might interrupt conversations, make impromptu decisions, or jump into activities without much forethought.
  4. Disorganisation and forgetfulness: They might need help keeping their bedroom tidy, remembering where they put their toys, or determining how to tackle tasks.
  5. Time management struggles: Often dubbed ‘time blindness,’ it refers to the difficulty in judging how much time a task will take, leading to frequent lateness or last-minute rushes regarding school tasks such as homework.
  6. Mood swings: Rapid and intense emotional shifts can occur in a child with ADHD. A minor disappointment might lead to significant distress, or a small success can lead to immense joy.
  7. A tendency to procrastinate: Even if they intend to get started on a task, a child with ADHD might find themselves consistently putting it off, often due to feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to begin.
  8. Distractibility: Even with the best intentions, children with ADHD can easily be sidetracked by minor interruptions, background noise, or their thoughts.

Diagnosis of ADHD

As there’s no one test for ADHD – and its symptoms can be similar to other issues like sleep disorders or anxiety – a psychologist, psychiatrist, or even a paediatrician might consult not only with the child but also with parents, teachers, and others who interact with the child to understand their behaviour in various situations.

Treatment of ADHD

Treatment for ADHD often involves a combination of interventions tailored to the child’s needs. This may include:

Medication: Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. They help increase the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which play essential roles in thinking and attention.

Non-stimulant medications are alternatives for those who don’t respond to stimulants or experience side effects. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CTP): CPT provides support, feedback, and strategies to address specific challenges and behaviours. It can help a child with ADHD develop organisational skills, improve time management, and establish positive habits.

Psychoeducation: Understanding ADHD can be empowering. Being educated about the condition helps individuals and their families cope better.

Psychotherapy/counselling: This can help children with ADHD deal with frustrations, boost self-esteem, cope with any emotional issues, and assist parents in better managing a child with ADHD.

Lifestyle changes: Regular physical activity, proper sleep, and a balanced diet can help manage symptoms.

Social skills training: This can be beneficial for children to improve their interpersonal relationships and social interactions.

Support groups: Connecting with others facing similar challenges can offer emotional support and shared strategies.

“It’s crucial to note that what works for one person might not work for another,” adds Hewlett.

“Regular follow-ups and adjustments to the treatment plan are often required. Collaboration among healthcare professionals, therapists, teachers, parents, and individuals with ADHD is essential for optimal outcomes.”


About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health cover provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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