Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood neuropsychological disorders. It is a developmental disorder that affects more boys than girls. Children with ADHD tend to show a mixture of hyperactivity and inattention and impulsiveness as compared to other children. Symptoms of ADHD can start as early as seven years of age. In Singapore, according to ratings by their parents, about 4.9 % of kids have disruptive behaviours.


Causes of ADHD
ADHD is caused by biological factors and possible environmental and genetic factors as well. No single cause has been identified although heredity appears to be a contributing factor. Recent imaging studies of the brains of children affected by ADHD suggest that they are different from those of other children. Chemical changes in the brain have also been found.


Diagnosing ADHD

Diagnosing and treating ADHD is a partnership between doctors, parents, teachers and the child. Although there is no “cure” for ADHD per se, it can be successfully managed. Upon noticing these symptoms in your child, it is good to check with a doctor (e.g. psychiatrists, paediatricians ). Your doctor will work with you to evaluate the child for ADHD. Some of the evaluation may include:

  • Parent and teacher questionnaires
  • Psychological evaluation of the child and family (IQ testing and psychological testing)
  • Complete developmental, mental, nutritional, physical and psychosocial examination.


Treatment for ADHD

Early identification of ADHD in children and young adults is crucial as it is a long-term and chronic condition. If left untreated, children with ADHD are at higher risk of developing drug and alcohol abuse, failure in school, problems keeping a job and also getting into trouble with the law when the child gets older.



ADHD can be treated with a combination of medication, behaviour therapy and family therapy. Medications such as stimulants, non-stimulants and antidepressants are used alongside other forms of therapy to help the child cope with his/her behaviour and impulses. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that children put on medications had a better outcome than those who did not. It is important that parents and caregivers learn and understand about ADHD so that they can be a better support in helping the child deal with the disorder.


Behavioural therapy and psychotherapy for kids with ADHD are powerful tools when used in conjunction with medication. It attempts to change behaviour patterns by intentional strategies. Mental health workers such as psychiatrists, psychologists and specialist teachers work with the child to help them develop coping mechanisms and strategies.


Some examples of behavioural techniques to help a child with ADHD may involve:

  • Creating and maintaining a consistent daily routine including regular times for homework, meals and outdoor activities
  • Communication regularly with the child’s teacher
  • Making sure the child gets enough sleep and has a healthy and varied diet
  • Help your child to organize his/her room and things to facilitate order and pattern
  • Limiting and avoiding distractions in the child’s environment while he/she is focusing on a task
  • Limit availability of choices
  • Use a chart to list realistic goals and track positive behaviors
  • Reward and praise good behavior
  • Discipline effectively with clear and consistent rules for the child to follow
  • Help your child discover a talent


ADHD in the classroom

Children and young people with ADHD in school display symptoms like inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness in the classroom setting and may find it difficult to sit still and concentrate on one thing at a time. Children with ADHD are also at higher risk of suffering from learning disability, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and other mood disorders.


Tips for working with kids with ADHD in the classroom:

  • Reduce seating distractions
  • Use a separate homework folder for parent-teacher communications
  • Break down assignments
  • Give positive reinforcement
  • Teach good study skills
  • Supervise
  • Be sensitive to self-esteem issues
  • Involve the school counselor/psychologist

Children with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents, teachers and support groups to reach their full potential and to succeed both academically and socially.



Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Department of Psychological Medicine runs a Child and Adolescent Psychological Wellness Service. We provide a comprehensive assessment and management for ADHD in children and adolescents. We have a dedicated multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists and psychologists that can provide assessment and treatment for your loved ones’ psychological and emotional distress.


It is never too late to seek help. If you would like to obtain an assessment, please obtain a referral from your doctor or call 65558828 for an appointment.