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Parents in UAE need to be educated on ADHD symptoms, says doctor

ABU DHABI // Parents need to know more about childhood development to determine the difference between normal behaviour and problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, say medical experts.

ADHD is believed to affect about 9 per cent of children around the world. In 60 per cent of the cases, the disorder continues into adulthood, affecting people’s personal and professional lives.

The problem is often characterised by inability to pay attention, compulsive action or hyperactivity.

“There is a misunderstanding about the nature of ADHD,” said Dr Ahed Bisharat, consultant paediatrician at Healthpoint.

“It is hereditary in 75 per cent of cases and many mothers realise they themselves have ADHD only after their children are diagnosed with the disorder.”

Dr Bisharat said that he has seen many patients with ADHD in this part of the world, adults and youngsters.

Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein were believed to have ADHD.

ADHD is usually diagnosed about the age of six or seven.

While some children are labelled hyperactive, others seem inattentive and some represent with all the symptoms that are associated with an ADHD diagnosis.

Dr Mohammed Tahir, a psychiatrist at Health-Call in Dubai Healthcare City, said that people’s work lives were affected if they could not focus, had low tolerance for being shifted from one activity to another, were disorganised or frequently lost belongings.

The doctor believed that children who have ADHD at two years of age “are difficult to control as they have more temper tantrums and are more hyperactive” than those who are going through the perfectly normal two-year-old development stage of what is termed by many parents as the “terrible twos”.

Dr Michael Hamarneh, a consultant clinical psychologist at Mediclinic City Hospital said: “The issue of stigma related to mental health and behavioural problems is a serious barrier and often contributes to keeping cases under wraps and sweeping them under the rug.

“Awareness in schools is very important to help parents in understanding the importance of intervention.”

Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem, is an ADHD sufferer and explained how his parents were not aware of the condition when he was a young boy. “They just thought you could not sit still and were restless,” he said. “The teachers would say ‘you have ants in your pants’.”

He was always creatively inclined and well read but did not do well academically. Later, when Mr Pierrepont worked alongside educational psychologists, he was told that he had ADHD.

B D, who works as a radiologist in Abu Dhabi, has a 10-year old son who was diagnosed as having ADHD three years ago. “He interacts with other kids but he doesn’t pay attention to the details of class,” he said.

After B D and his wife felt there was a problem, he sought help and his son has been on medication for the past year. He believed the challenge was putting your child on medication as there may be side-effects

He advised parents to consult a paediatrician if their child was demonstrating issues that were not the normal run of the mill tears and tantrums that all healthy children have.

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(via The National)