Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Early Intervention Helps Improve Learning and Communication Abilities

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often struggle to focus on any activity, tend to forget things, find it difficult to make friends, cannot stay still for more than a few seconds, and engage in excessive climbing or jumping, affecting their learning and communication skills. However, if professionals can intervene at an early age, children can learn to regulate their behaviour, reduce disruptions in learning, improve social relationships, and avoid risky behaviours in adulthood.

The number of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is increasing in Vietnam

According to clinical psychologist Nguyen Vo Minh Hien from the Clinical Psychology Department at FV Hospital, in 2022, it was estimated that 3.25 to 9.3% of Vietnamese children suffered from ADHD. Following global trends, it is anticipated that this syndrome will continue to rise.

The cause of ADHD has not yet been identified, and no prevention solution is available.

Due to advancements in medical technology, earlier and more accurate diagnosis of ADHD is now possible in children as young as four years. As living standards rise, incomes improve, and parents become more involved in their children’s developmental journey, they are more able to recognise abnormal signs and take their children for examination. Recently, FV Hospital has seen cases where parents proactively seek ADHD assessments and interventions for their children.

Medical professionals perceive ADHD as a disorder involving impaired brain function development due to a deficiency in nerve signal transmitters in certain brain areas (specifically, the decrease of substances like dopamine). Currently, the medical field has not yet identified the cause of ADHD, hence there’s no preventive solution available. However, some high-risk factors contributing to children’s hyperactivity and attention deficit include genetic factors (having a family member with ADHD), exposure to stimulants, addictive substances, alcohol, contact with harmful chemicals (such as lead), low birth weight, premature birth, brain injuries, or contracting certain diseases (rubella) from birth.

Abnormal signs in children aged four that parents should pay attention to

Children with ADHD often struggle to concentrate and absorb lessons when they begin to go to school

Children with ADHD often exhibit symptoms such as: inability to concentrate on any activity, difficulty remembering class lessons, frequent forgetfulness, constant misplacement of belongings, and poor academic performance due to reduced attention. For hyperactive children, this can affect their relationships, making it challenging to make friends, constantly seeking to be the centre of attention, exhibiting impatience while waiting for their turn or standing in line, an inability to wait for others to finish speaking, fidgeting, and disrupting class order.

Children with ADHD may engage in risky behaviours, show excitement towards those risky behaviours, are prone to injuries and accidents, and may challenge and oppose their parents.

These signs are often mistaken for behavioural disorders, autism spectrum disorder, or adult bipolar disorder.

“A common confusion arises between children with ADHD and those with autism spectrum disorder. The distinguishing factor is that children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder still possess the ability to communicate and actively engage with others. When engaged in conversations, they tend to speak extensively, switch topics frequently, tell humorous, rich, and varied stories, showing keen observation and curiosity about their surroundings. On the other hand, children with autism spectrum disorder have limited proactive engagement; they become active only when others initiate the conversation,” says Clinical Psychologist Ms Nguyen Vo Minh Hien.

The golden period for intervention and support for children with ADHD is between four and 12 years old

Ms Nguyen Vo Minh Hien, a Clinical Psychologist at FVH, suggests that when parents observe their child showing outward signs such as difficulty concentrating on a single task or sitting still for extended periods, exhibiting extreme behaviour, being impulsive, and prone to accidents or self-inflicted injuries, it’s advisable to take the child to the hospital for an examination as early as possible.”

Clinical Psychologist Ms Nguyen Vo Minh Hien states that the age range from four to 12 is considered the ‘golden’ period for intervening in ADHD

According to Clinical Psychologist, Ms Nguyen Vo Minh Hien, the period from four to 12 years old is the most observable and intervention-friendly time for children with this condition, as behaviours are less habitual during this period. The age range of 8-12 is when children are more aware and cooperative with behavioural interventions. For younger children, intervention programmes primarily focus on parental training. As children grow older and habits become more entrenched, it becomes harder to adjust, and in many cases, psychiatric medication (based on specific conditions) may be needed for more effective behaviour control, aiding in improved focus on studies and calmer behaviour.

In this journey, support doesn’t solely come from psychological professionals and psychiatrists; parents need to learn how to handle, control, and adjust their child’s behaviour at home in a timely manner. The school also plays a vital role in understanding the child, offering teaching programmes, and creating a suitable learning environment for the child.

“Children are aware of their lack of focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness, but they don’t know how to control it. Show empathy, patience, and accompany your child, as every day they grow a little bit more, needing to acquire new skills to integrate. Children need support from their parents, the school, and specialist ADHD institutions,” shares Ms Nguyen Vo Minh Hien.

Adjusting the behaviour of children with ADHD after the age of 12 becomes more challenging. Adolescents develop their opinions, sometimes hiding emotions very well, and due to feeling overwhelmed and powerless, they might be prone to self-doubt, self-loathing, leading to depression and self-harming behaviours. As they grow up, they might engage in illegal activities, face difficulties in building relationships with peers, or in their future marriage life.

Therefore, early detection of ADHD in children is crucial. Psychologists alongside involved parties will assist the child in behavioural adjustment, learning new skills until ADHD symptoms gradually decrease, no longer impacting their daily life.

To learn more about behavioural adjustments for children with ADHD, parents can contact the Clinical Psychology Department at FV Hospital by phone: (028) 54 11 33 33.