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ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a condition which is characterized by Inattention, Hyperactivity and Impulsivity. It is usually diagnosed in childhood, but up to 60% of people continue to have symptoms as adults. Medication and behavioral management is used to treat this condition and decrease the symptoms. However, ADHD affects every part of a person’s life, and also the lives of their family members. This article describes the various effects of ADHD on the child as well as the family.
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ADHD and Learning:
Children with ADHD have difficulty in maintaining their attention. This is one of the main reasons why they struggle with learning. They don’t stay with one task or activity for a long time and thus, do not learn much. They get bored easily and give up when the task is challenging. Having a child with ADHD in the classroom can sometimes be exhausting for the teacher as they have to continuously think of new and interesting ways to occupy the child.
As the child gets older, disorganization is another important factor that interferes with learning. The child forgets about tests and homework, or may forget to take the right books to school. The child may have poor time management skills that affect their ability to use their study time well.
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ADHD and Relationships:
Children and adults with ADHD have poor social skills and thus, find it difficult to build deep relationships. As children, they find it difficult to interpret the body language and emotions of others. Moreover, they may not follow rules in games, and other children may not like to play with them for this reason.
When they grow up to be adults, they continue to have difficulties in understanding the needs of others, and even communicating. They talk excessively and find it difficult to listen.They may not be able to express their deepest emotions, or understand another person’s frustration, pain, or distress. They may forget birthdays, appointments and other important days which can also be a cause for friction in relationships. All this makes it difficult for them to grow closer to people.
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ADHD and Lifestyle:
Among the symptoms associated with ADD and ADHD, some sufferers exhibit a lot of risk taking behavior and are thus not careful about their safety. They are thus frequently involved in accidents, and also are frequently caught speeding. They are often addicted to smoking, drinking, or drugs. They do not have the self discipline to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. These factors can endanger the life of the person.
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ADHD and Play:
In spite of their hyperactivitiy, children with ADHD are often not good at sports. They don’t follow rules because of their impulsivity and lack of disciple. This can often irritate other children, and thus, they may find themselves excluded. Moreover, children with ADHD find it difficult to concentrate in any activity for a long time, thus they don’t tend to stay at a task and master it. As children, this aspect can have a huge effect on their socialization and self esteem, as children learn a lot about themselves and build relationships through play. Being constantly criticized by friends for doing badly in games and sports, can lead to the development of low self esteem.
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Effects of ADHD on the Family Continuing on with the discussion of the effects of ADHD on the various aspects of family life including the parent's marriage and the siblings.
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Effects of ADHD on the Family Life:
Having a child with ADHD in the family can interrupt family life. Any family outings like shopping, a visit to the zoo, or a walk in the park can become very difficult with a child with ADHD. Slowly, the family may stop going out, in order to avoid frustrating and difficult situations. Parents may find it difficult to go out anywhere for important work like shopping, or a meeting in the child’s school because they cannot leave the child at home, nor take the child with them. Babysitters or relatives may refuse to care for the child for short periods of time, as they may find it too exhausting. Relatives, or other children, may stop inviting the family and the child for parties and other social events. The family slowly tends to cut off from all their close friends and relations. In addition to this, children with ADHD may not sleep well and parents often have to stay awake caring for the child. This results in parents being exhausted all the time.
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Effects of Child’s ADHD on Marriage:
Due to all the reasons described above, the marriage relationship of the parents of the child with ADHD is often strained. They find it difficult to cope with the demands of caring for the child, and get frustrated when they do not get adequate support from their spouse. The child takes so much of their time, that they may stop having time for each other and for themselves. Conflict and dissatisfaction increases in such marriages.
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Effects of ADHD on Siblings:
In this kind of a family situation, it can be very difficult to be a sibling of a child with ADHD. In addition to coping with all the other stress in family life, the child may be physically or verbally abused by the child with ADHD. Moreover, in many situations, the parents do not provide sufficient help and support to the sibling as they feel sorry for the child with ADHD. Other than this, parents do not find sufficient time and energy to spend with, and show love to the siblings and because of this, the other children may grow up feeling insecure and unloved.
Thus the effects of ADHD can be seen on the life of that person with it, as well as in the lives of their families. However, regular treatment can reduce a lot of symptoms of ADHD , and family counseling can help to support the family through the challenges they face. Being aware of these effects, can help us to tackle these issues when they are just developing, and handle them in a better way.
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Marlene Busko, ADHD Takes a Heavy Toll on Family Relationships, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/582864
V A Harpin, The effect of ADHD on the life of an individual, their family, and community from preschool to adult life, Archives of Disability in Children, 2005
National Institute of Mental Health, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, NIH publication, 2008