​Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ​(ADHD)


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common chronic disorders which affect millions of children worldwide. The predominant features of the disorder are inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviour. ADHD causes a number of behavioural symptoms, including hyperactivity, difficulty maintaining attention, and impulsive behaviour. Children who are diagnosed with ADHD may also struggle with maintaining relationships, managing time and also low self-esteem. 

ADHD is usually noticed and diagnosed in childhood years (between six and twelve). Some children may grow out some of the symptoms with time, but often the disorder is carried on into adulthood (adult ADHD). It is also possible to be diagnosed with adult ADHD, which is usually only the case if the disorder has been undiagnosed as a child. If the disorder remains undiscovered, it could lead to a number of difficulties, such as emotional, social, academic and occupational trouble.

The two predominant features of ADHD are inattention and hyper-impulsive behaviour. Some children may start to exhibit symptoms of the disorder from the young ages of two or three years old. Symptoms vary from person to person, and depend on a number of factors such as age and gender. Symptoms of the disorder fall under three broad categories; inaction, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Some indicators that your child may have ADHD include:

  • Has a short attention span and has trouble paying attention 

  • Is easily distracted by seemingly trivial noises and activities 

  • Is often fidgety or restless 

  • Has trouble remaining seated and seems to be constantly moving around

  • Is regularly caught daydreaming 

  • Frequently has troubles with organizational tasks

  • Has trouble following through with instructions

  • Often appears not to be listening      

  • Is frequently forgetful and often misplaces needed items

  • Frequently falls behind schoolwork and fails to finish tasks or chores 

  • Is overly talkative 

  • Is frequently disruptive, and interrupts or intrudes other peoples conversations or activities 

  • May blurt out inappropriate comments and expresses emotion without restriction, and acting without regard for consequences 

  • Is often impatient and has trouble waiting for their turn 

It is possible to be diagnosed with adult ADHD, which is usually only the case if the disorder has been undiagnosed as a child. If the disorder remains undiscovered, it could lead to a number of difficulties, such as emotional, social, academic and occupational trouble. Along with symptoms of inattention and/or impulsiveness, some possible indicators of adult ADHD include:

  • Frequently being late and forgetful 

  • Suffering from anxiety 

  • Low self-esteem 

  • Trouble coping at work or struggling with unemployment 

  • Poor organizational skills 

  • Difficulty completing tasks 

  • A short temper 

  • Difficulty controlling and inhibiting impulse behaviour – difficulty imagining the consequences of impulsive actions or responses. 

  • Restlessness ​

Many children go through phases where they exhibit behaviours which can be confused with ADHD (restlessness or inattentiveness for example). However, this may not always be indicative of ADHD and it may just be a phase that your child grows out of.

However, if you notice any persistent symptoms or indicators (six months or longer) of ADHD with your child, you may wish to discuss whether their teachers have notices any abnormal behaviour. If there are reasons for concern, you should visit your paediatrician at the Children's Hospital or doctor working with the Mind and Brain Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started. 

There are a number of interview and questionnaire methods that are used to evaluate behaviour, and can be submitted by family members, you child's teachers, or other people who have a close relationship with your child.
ADHD rating scales may also be used to assess your child's behaviour, and provide a rating against a standardized set of indicators. Furthermore, there is a criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association. Additionally, in order to be diagnosed with ADHD, your child would typically display six or more symptoms of either or both the inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsiveness categories, in more than one setting, and over a period of greater than six months.     

It is also possible to discover ADHD while seeking professional help for other disorders, such as anxiety or depression. If you notice any of the symptoms related to adult ADHD, you should seek medical advice from your healthcare professional for treatment options. 

There is currently no definite cure for ADHD. However it can be managed with the help of appropriate educational support for behavioural therapies, and guidance and support for the parents and for their affected child/children. Parental and family support is vital to treatment for ADHD. Medication may also be prescribed in certain cases if necessary.

Certain psychotherapy methods, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), are commonly used to manage the effects of ADHD. Furthermore, behaviour management skills for parents can be taught in classes, to help manage the stress and anxiety that may come with parenting a child with ADHD. Your child may also benefit from behaviour management techniques, in order to manage certain targeted behaviours, such as completing school work and improving organizational skills.

Some psychostimulant medications are thought to be highly effective in most children that have been diagnosed with ADHD. However, these commonly have mild side effects (e.g. insomnia or headaches), and therefore need to be administered with the careful guidance of your child's paediatrician. 

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider. ​