Understanding ADHD symptoms and treatments in Singapore

By: Osler Health International
Posted on: 11 Sep 2023

Understanding ADHD symptoms and treatments in Singapore

Perhaps your child occasionally forgets his homework. Or maybe her mind wanders during lessons, and she tends to act on a whim, or display a burst of energy at the least appropriate moments.. 

While it’s easy to mislabel children as defiant or undisciplined, consistent inattention and impulsive actions raise a different concern. They might indicate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD), which more commonly describes individuals who may be inattentive but lack hyperactive tendencies. 

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, often first identified in early childhood, typically before a child reaches the age of seven. This condition is estimated to affect about 5 to 10% of children within and beyond Singapore. ADHD inherently challenges a child’s ability to regulate spontaneous reactions, be it movement, verbal expression, or focus.

Types of ADHD and its symptoms

While common perceptions of an individual with ADHD conjure archetypes of the restless child, constantly in motion and causing disturbances, reality paints a more nuanced picture. Some children with ADHD exhibit this hyperactive behaviour, but others may seem calm and distant. While some might zone in with intense focus on one task and find it challenging to transition to another, others are impulsive and exhibit mild inattention.

This is because the symptoms of ADHD vary based on the type of ADHD they have: 

  • Inattentive Presentation: A child with a predominantly inattentive presentation may struggle with tasks requiring organisation or completion.
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: Characterised by a surge of energy, ADHD children under this category may constantly be moving or talking. Their restlessness pairs with an impulsive character, drives them to interrupt conversations, act without considering consequences, or experience difficulty patiently awaiting their turn.
  • Combined Presentation: This encapsulates a balance, where symptoms from inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive presentations manifest.

Is it really ADHD?

Understanding a child’s behaviour is complex, and while signs of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity can suggest ADHD, they’re not definitive proof of the disorder. Many factors, ranging from certain medical conditions and psychological disorders to intense life-changing events, can have similar symptoms as ADHD.

To ensure an accurate diagnosis, it’s crucial to consult with a certified children’s doctor who has experience in neurodiversity. Dr Nicole Plesko-Altermatt is based in our Star Vista clinic and has specific training and years of experience in identifying ADHD. She utilises the international standard ADHD tests and evaluation often leads to co-management with trusted allied health professionals. See this infographic detailing all the specialist support we access according to the child’s needs. Factors she may consider include:

  • Learning Challenges: These can span difficulties in reading, writing, motor skills, or language comprehension.
  • Life Disruptions: Significant events such as relocating, losing a loved one, enduring bullying, or facing parental divorce can influence behaviour.
  • Psychological Concerns: Conditions such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder can manifest in ways reminiscent of ADHD.
  • Behavioural Issues: Some children might display symptoms of behavioural disorders, such as conduct disorder, reactive attachment disorder, or oppositional defiant disorder, which can be mistaken for ADHD.
  • Medical Conditions: It’s essential to consider if medical issues like thyroid imbalances, certain neurological conditions, epilepsy, or sleep disorders might be influencing observed behaviours.

Manage ADHD with Osler Health

Children exhibiting inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity can face academic and social hurdles, therefore we do advise coming to a professional and discussing the symptoms. Dr Nicole is a ‘safe space’ to discuss ADHD and other neurodiverse symptoms.

Our GP and children’s doctors have years of practice in delivering medical care in international medical settings. At Osler Health, our ADHD treatment approach encompasses a network of trusted professionals that co-manage (this may be child psychologists, speech therapists, behavioural specialists and more). To understand how we co-manage please see this infographic of all the specialists we can co-manage with. By implementing a tailored and multi-faceted treatment and support plan, we ensure that every child’s unique needs are met.

If you have further questions about ADHD, our guide on the frequently asked questions about ADHD and ADD will serve as a valuable resource. For personalised guidance, schedule an appointment with Dr Nicole Plesko-Altermatt in our Star Vista clinic in Singapore today.

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