How do you identify ADHD and ADD?

By: Dr Nicole Plesko-Altermatt

Star Vista clinic
Posted on: 24 Feb 2023

We asked children’s doctor, Dr Nicole Plesko-Altermatt to explain the process of identifying ADHD and ADD.

What is ADHD/ADD? What types of behaviours are evident?

ADHD/ADD stands for Attention Deficit (and Hyperactivity) Disorder, which means that an affected person shows significant inattentiveness and possibly hyperactive/impulsive behaviour.
It is important to note that hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are observed in many children and are part of normal child development. Only when this behaviour is impairing a child’s functions it is considered a ‘disorder’.

    Possible signs of inattention include:

poor listening skills, frequent misplacing and losing of belongings, diminished attention span, difficulties in planning and finishing tasks.

    Possible signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity include:

fidgeting, inability to sit still, difficulties in waiting turn, frequent interrupting of others. If this sounds like your child, you may wish to seek a diagnosis.

What age does ADHD normally present itself?

ADHD symptoms are aggravated under stress; hence the typical behaviour issues most often present themselves in phases of transition. This may be joining primary school at 6-7 years old, or becoming a teenager around age 12-14 years.

Is ADHD more common in boys or girls?

5-7% of all children are affected by AD(H)D; while ADHD is more common in boys, ADD is more common in girls.

What does having ADHD mean? Can an ADHD child still access school and academia?

Having ADHD will probably mean that your child will rely upon specific and tailored support to be able to reach their social, academic and professional potential.
Each child will have a different journey with ADHD. The variety of experience depends upon;
– the extent of the symptoms
– the availability of support
– the response to coaching and treatment, and
– the natural progression of the disorder (which may differ greatly).
It’s important to remember that each child will have a different path and although there are commonalities, your child’s ADHD may present differently to other children’s. Most children with ADHD attend a mainstream school and some are very academically successful!

How does a professional assess/identify ADHD? What is the process?

There are only a few practitioners in Singapore who are trained to identify ADHD. It is important to determine if ADHD is indeed the cause, or if the symptoms are due to another health/developmental condition. To assess this, I conduct a thorough medical examination including a patient’s medical history, some diagnostics (like blood tests) followed by a detailed developmental assessment.

The developmental assessment usually consists of cognitive tests (such as solving logical problems, completing memory tasks, testing fine motor skills, and other cognition puzzles), behaviour observation in different situations, and detailed questionnaires.

Do all children with ADHD need medication?

Not every child with ADHD needs the same support and treatment and certainly not every child needs medication. Usually, a tailored treatment plan will consist of a combination of different components, such as lifestyle and diet adjustments, parent and teacher education, coaching, Occupational Therapy and medication.

What advice would you give to a parent who suspects their child has ADHD?

When a child struggles because of behaviour it is important to get the support the child needs. I would advise any parent that suspects their child has ADHD to seek the advice of a qualified professional and secure an assessment. The sooner we can identify what is behind the behaviour, the sooner we can take the necessary steps. A diagnosis of ADHD can be very helpful in understanding your child’s behaviour and accessing and appropriate support.

Dr Nicole Plesko-Altermatt is a Swiss trained children’s doctor who can identify ADHD/ADD and other neuro-diverse conditions. Dr Nicole is located at our Star Vista clinic. If you wish to make an appointment with Dr Nicole please click HERE.
Raffles Hotel Arcade Star Vista