Children with ADHD, especially those who also have anxiety or depression disorders, are likely to suffer from low self-esteem.
Anti-Social Behavior. A child with ADHD oftentimes has volatile relationships with others and these children are often unhappy from a very young age. Research indicates that any boy or girl with ADHD, particularly an aggressive child, has trouble getting along with others, and is less liked by his or her peers.
High-Risk Behavior. Impulsivity in young people with ADHD can cause them to take chances before thinking them through, putting them in situations where the consequences become clear only after the action has been taken. Children with ADHD and high levels of aggression are at higher risk for delinquent behavior in adolescence and criminal activity in adulthood. Close parental attention and early treatment can limit the risk considerably.
Studies consistently report that young people with ADHD -- in particular those with conduct or mood disorders -- have a higher than average risk for substance abuse and that it starts in younger ages. In one study, by age 11 nearly 20% of children with ADHD had tried smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or both. Biologic factors associated with ADHD may make these individuals susceptible to substance abuse. Many of these young people are actually self-medicating their condition.
Although speech and learning disorders are common in children with ADHD, the disorder does not affect intelligence. People with ADHD span the same IQ range as the general population.
Many children with ADHD are underachievers, and half are held back in school at least once. Some evidence suggests that inattention may be a major factor in low academic performance in these children. About 20% also have reading difficulties, and 60% have serious handwriting problems. Adults with ADHD are also at very high risk for these conditions.
Some research suggests that ADHD persists in one- to two-thirds of those diagnosed with the condition in childhood. Many researchers describe the pattern of ADHD as they would a chronic illness, with remission and periods of worsening.
The time and attention needed to deal with a child with ADHD can change internal family relationships and have devastating effects on parents and siblings.
Effect on Parents. Any intervention for the child must include the parents. Parents who are responsive to their child in a positive way can help reduce the chances for oppositional behaviors. But it can be very difficult. A child with ADHD is wonderful one day and terrible the next, for no apparent reason. The parent can feel betrayed and hurt, and believe they have no control over their child. Parents must protect themselves and their child by establishing tough but kind rules about where their space ends and the child's begins. There are many effects on parents:
Effect on Siblings. Siblings of children with ADHD have particular difficulties, and are also at risk for psychologic impairment, depression, drug abuse, and language disorders. A sibling without ADHD does not have the control a parent does in the management of the ADHD child's behavior and is very likely to feel alienated and alone. Children without ADHD are often victimized by siblings with ADHD who may be demanding or bullying.
Siblings who do not receive attention in their own right may begin to imitate undesirable behaviors or to act out negatively in other ways. It is very important to make the brothers and sisters equally vital to the family's functioning. However, they should never be made to feel that their value in the family is as caregivers of the sibling with ADHD.
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