Parents of hyperactive children say drugs often fail to damp down symptoms at crucial times of day.
Research suggests children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder disrupt family life mostly in the mornings and early evenings. Doctors believe current treatments should be effective at these times – but a study found this often does not tally with parents’ experiences. An ADHD 24/7 campaign has been launched to provide practical help. ADHD affects an estimated 3-7% of school-aged children – roughly two children in every classroom. Symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.A study conducted to tie in with the new campaign found that 85% of doctors believe that current ADHD treatments should control symptoms from 8am to 9am, whereas just 62% of parents agree that this is the case in reality. Similarly, 60% of doctors expect treatments to still be effective from 5pm to 7pm – but just 45% of parents feel that symptoms are under control at this time. Although most parents and doctors agree that ADHD medication completely wears off between 7pm and 9pm, for a significant minority of parents (17%), symptom relief has already ended by 5pm. The research also found that over 90% of parents believe their child’s ADHD has a moderate or severe impact on family life. Big impact Dr David Coghill, senior lecturer in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Dundee, said: “ADHD is a 24-hour condition and the busiest times of the day for the family – mornings and evenings – can be the most stressful for parents and children alike. “As a result, we know that affected children can miss out on friendships, after-school activities and hobbies whilst family time is constantly disrupted. “The daily and constant chaos that ADHD can cause impacts not only on the development of the child with the disorder, but also affects his or her siblings, the wider family, school and community.” Dr Morris Zwi, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Richmond Royal Hospital, London, told the BBC News website that commonly prescribed ADHD medications – such as methylphenidate and dextro-amphetamine – were short lasting. He said medication could not be taken later on in the day because it often affected sleep. “I always tell parents that medication will help their child at school predominantly and that they will not see much of the benefits, except at weekends.” Andrea Bilbow, chief executive of ADDISS added: “ADHD affects everybody in the family, not just the diagnosed child and this is especially true at the most stressful times of the day before medication takes effect and after it has worn off. “This campaign will hopefully raise awareness of the family impact of ADHD and by giving practical advice and support, will help to take the pressure off some of the day’s stress points.” It will offer practical hints and tips and contact details for organisations that can help. An information leaflet is available by emailing ADHD@familystresspoints.co.uk The survey involved 70 paediatricians, 55 child and adolescent psychiatrists, 101 parents of children with ADHD who were receiving treatment for the condition and 147 parents who know a child with ADHD.(Source: BBC News: November 2004.)