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What you need to know about ADD/ADHD

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Are you supporting a child, teenager or adult with ADD/ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a reality for many people in Quebec. Here’s what you need to know about its symptoms and diagnosis, and what steps parents can take.

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What do I need to know about ADD/ADHD?

Attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It globally affects cognitive functions related to attention, concentration, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Children, adolescents and adults may be affected:

  • ADD/ADHD occurs in 5–8% of children and can compromise their school performance;
  • Awareness-raising initiatives are trying to find a language to address and inform teenagers. There is a great need for information among teenagers, at a stage in their lives when relationships with friends are crucial;
  • Some adults (4%) are diagnosed later in life. Information plays a key role for these people.

In Quebec, this represents more than 275,000 people aged between 6 and 64. For the people who support them, the challenge is great, and the impact on families can be considerable.


Patterns and examples

Attention deficit disorder (ADD)

Patterns: inattention and difficulty concentrating

Examples: the person is easily distracted, often loses things or has difficulty organizing tasks

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Patterns: hyperactivity, impulsivity and sometimes emotional hyper-reactivity

Examples: the person fidgets in their chair, talks excessively, has difficulty remaining seated, may have difficulty waiting their turn, interrupts others, makes decisions without weighing the pros and cons

Combined type ADD/ADHD

Patterns: a combination of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity

Examples: see above


Based on the DSM-5 criteria, the diagnosis is made by a qualified health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist specializing in neurodevelopmental disorders.

The symptoms observed must:

  • be persistent, frequent and/or intense for at least six months;
  • lead to difficulties in functioning in more than one sphere of daily life: family, social, professional or academic.

Some symptoms are common to ADHD and ASD, ADHD and intellectual disability, and ADHD and language disorders. Diagnosis is therefore a crucial step, enabling us to distinguish between the disorders and determine the appropriate treatment.

Living with ADD/ADHD

There are different ways to help people living with ADD/ADHD:

  • The differentiated teaching approach. At school, guidance and instruction are personalized. Small-group classes are an asset for children’s comfort. Certain adaptive strategies are also available: psychosocial support, time allotted for exams, use of Antidote software;
  • Psychological therapies for behaviour modification. There are many techniques available: psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, social skills training, support groups and parenting skills development;
  • Medication. In cases where ADHD has been accurately diagnosed, medication can drastically reduce impulsivity and improve concentration. It is not a miracle solution, even if it does reduce the symptoms of hyperactivity.

Parents of a child with ADD/ADHD: what to do?

The focus on ADHD in Le médecin du Québec magazine sums it up perfectly: highlight your child’s or teenager’s successes. Encourage and value them. Give priority to quality time spent with your youngster.

For you, this can mean:

  • helping your child develop strategies for concentrating, learning to learn and succeeding with ADD/ADHD by proposing a toolbox, such as the one from the Fondation Philippe Laprise, among others;
  • developing your parenting skills with a winning attitude and strategies for dealing with your child or teenager;
  • taking advantage of services such as those offered by PANDA associations.

Although it may seem rather abstract to you, you are parent caregivers. Recognizing yourself as a caregiver can open doors to resources, support and services.

Recognizing yourself as a caregiver can also help you support your child’s success at school and in life. You can contact the Caregiver Support Helpline, where you’ll find a sympathetic ear.

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Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784