​​​​​​​​​​While it is natural to feel restless and be unable to focus from time to time, for a person diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they experience serious and persistent difficulty in sustaining attention, controlling impulses and hyperactivity. ADHD is a neuro-developmental disorder which usually begins from an early age, usually before seven years old. According to research, this condition is due to brain functioning or development, such as genetic factors, injuries, toxins and infections.

 How Do We Identify ADHD In Children?


​​It is quite normal for children to be active, inattentive and impulsive. However, children with ADHD struggle in three areas, namely: inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Some of the symptoms in each area include:


  • Not paying attention to details or making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Does not complete task or fails to follow instructions
  • Difficulty organising tasks and activities
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Often loses things
  • Easily distracted by surroundings
  • Forgetful


  • Fidgety or often squirms in seat
  • Cannot remain seated
  • Runs about or climbs excessively
  • Difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • Energetic, as if “driven by a motor”
  • Talks excessively


  • Blurts out answers before questions are completed
  • Difficulty queuing or awaiting turn
  • Interrupts conversations or intrudes on others

It is worth noting when these behaviours:

  • Become severe and persistent over time
  • Become pervasive and occur consistently all the time, whether it is at home or in school
  • Impair their ability to make friends, get along with others or perform their tasks in such an instance, the child may be suffering from ADHD.

While it is possible for a child to grow out of ADHD, it is difficult to predict when and if this will happen. As such, the main immediate goal is to help manage ADHD and prevent the child from missing out on important life aspects such as developing peer relationships or in their academic learning.

Parents often find themselves feeling stressed from caring for their children who have ADHD. It is vital that they find support from other family members and the school. Parents can work with teachers and school counsellors to assess the child, and discuss how to best support them. Parents can also directly reach out to a psychiatrist or IMH’s multidisciplinary community mental health team REACH (Response, Early Intervention and Assessment in Community Health) to explore treatment and management strategies.

​​Adults, too, can have ADHD. Their challenges in inattention and impulsivity leading to problems at the workplace in terms of organisational skills, time management and their ability to hold their jobs. They may experience other challenges such as low self-esteem, personality difficulties, and are also more likely to suffer substance abuse problems and depression.

ADHD is a developmental disorder that begins from an early age and can continue into adulthood. Hence, it is unlikely for symptoms to suddenly appear in adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD, in particular hyperactivity, is less seen in adults. It is likely that some of the symptoms of ADHD do gradually improve with age, and with proper treatment and management.

There are many ways to support someone with ADHD, namely through training carers, medication, psychotherapy and coaching to improve their life skills such as organisation skills, time management and interpersonal skills.

  • ​Training carers and parents
    As children with ADHD often feel they can do nothing right or well, helping children experience success by discovering what they are good at will foster their confidence and competence. Educating parents on this condition allow them to encourage and affirm behaviour. One strategy is to create small, frequent and constantly repeated incentives and feedback to increase children’s awareness of what they are doing. Positive results are encouraged in this way.
  • Psychotherapy and coaching
    People with ADHD tend to forget their appointments and need some help with lifestyle management. Therefore, having a routine is essential.

    They can make lists, keep diaries, stick reminders and set aside some time to plan what they need to do if they find it hard to stay organised. Smart phones are also useful in integrating many organisation tasks and often have the advantage that they can be synchronised with desktop computers. These devices can also be used as electronic reminders to help with remembering medications and appointments.

    ADHD sufferers are more prone to anger because of frustration, hence they can let off steam by exercising regularly and finding ways to help them relax, such as listening to music or learning relaxation techniques.
  • Medication
    for more severe cases, medication may be needed to adjust certain levels of chemistry in the brain and therefore reduce ADHD symptoms.

To make an appointment to see a doctor, please call 6389 2200.
​ Click here​ to find out more on IMH's services for ADHD. To have a better understanding on ADHD, click here to watch a video on the disorder.