If you're the parent of a child with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), then you'll know this can be one of the most frustrating and stressful, yet rewarding job there is. It certainly takes extra special skills and persistence to give your child the kind of love and care they need.

It's estimated between 2 and 9 per cent of children have ADHD - that's one child in every classroom. Medications (Ritalin, Dexamphetamine) are the most common treatment for ADHD. While the medications can relieve many symptoms of ADHD, they don't cure the disorder. It's now becoming clear that therapy and family and community support are just as important in helping children with ADHD. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, then you'll naturally want to know as much about it as possible.

As part of our Health and Nutrition series, this brochure will give you the information you need about ADHD, focusing on natural ways you can help your child's ADHD without, or as a complement to, medication.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a group of chronic disorders that usually start in childhood and can sometimes carry into adult life. In general, children and adults with ADHD have a hard time concentrating, sitting still and controlling impulsive behaviour. These problems can affect nearly every aspect of life. Children and adults with ADHD often struggle with low self-esteem, troubled personal relationships and don't perform well at school or work.

ADHD used to be, and sometimes still is, called attention-deficit disorder (ADD). But today ADHD tends to be the preferred term because it's a more accurate description of all aspects of the condition.

The symptoms

ADHD symptoms can generally be divided into two main categories: inattention and hyperactive impulsive behaviour. Children are usually said to have ADHD if they show six or more symptoms from each category for at least 6 months. These symptoms have to affect a child's ability to function to a large degree in at least two social settings - usually at home and at school. This ensures the problem isn't just with a particular teacher or parent/s.

The following are common signs of ADHD.

Inattention - this could be if your child often:

- Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.

- Has trouble keeping their attention on tasks or play.

- Doesn't seem to listen when spoken to directly.

- Doesn't follow through on instructions and doesn't finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks.

- Has difficulty organising tasks or activities.

- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort, like schoolwork or homework (pretty common in most children!).

- Loses things they need for tasks or activities, like books, pencils, toys or tools.

- Is easily distracted and forgetful.