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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes people to have difficulty paying attention and controlling impulsive behavior.  It is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Most family health insurance plans end up covering ADHD for their clients children.  According to the National Institutes of Health ADHD has three subtypes:

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
    – Most symptoms (six or more) are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories.
    – Fewer than six symptoms of inattention are present, although inattention may still be present to some degree.
  • Predominantly inattentive
    – The majority of symptoms (six or more) are in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present, although hyperactivity-impulsivity may still be present to some degree.
    – Children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they are doing. Therefore, the child may be overlooked, and parents and teachers may not notice that he or she has ADHD.
  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive
    -Six or more symptomTre of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.
    -Most children have the combined type of ADHD.

Living with ADHD
To be diagnosed with ADHD, children should have at least 6 attention symptoms or 6 activity and impulsivity symptoms — to a degree beyond what would be expected for children their age.

The symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, observable in 2 or more settings, and not caused by another problem. The symptoms must be severe enough to cause significant difficulties. Some symptoms must be present before age 7.

Older children have ADHD in partial remission when they still have symptoms but no longer meet the full definition of the disorder.

Some children with ADHD primarily have the Inattentive Type, some the Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and some the Combined Type. Those with the Inattentive type are less disruptive and are easier to miss being diagnosed with ADHD.

The symptoms are as follows:

  • Get distracted easily and forget things often
  • Switch too quickly from one activity to the next
  • Have trouble with directions
  • Daydream too much
  • Have trouble finishing tasks like homework or chores
  • Lose toys, books, and school supplies often
  • Fidget and squirm a lot
  • Talk nonstop and interrupt people
  • Run around a lot
  • Touch and play with everything they see
  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments
  • Have trouble controlling their emotions.

Those with ADHD can get treatment to help reduce symptoms, but there is no cure. Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Most health insurance plans will cover treatment for ADHD even though it can be difficult to find an individual health insurance plan if a person was not previously covered.  Treatments include:

  1. Medication. The most common types are called stimulants. Medications help children focus, learn, and stay calm.  Sometimes medications cause side effects, such as sleep problems or stomachaches. Your child may need to try a few medications to see which one works best. It’s important that you and your doctor watch your child closely while he or she is taking medicine.
  2. Therapy. There are different kinds of therapy. Behavioral therapy can help teach children to control their behavior so they can do better at school and at home.
  3. Medication and therapy combined. Many children do well with both medication and therapy.
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