State education department has initiated a project to identify the prevalence of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) among school children. ADHD is a disorder that causes hyperactivity, inattention and behaviour problems in children.
The department has given Malleswaram-based Sattvam Homeopathic Speciality Clinic the go-ahead to screen children in 10 Malleshwaram schools in the first stage. It is expected to start off in a few weeks.
The department may make policy decisions on treating children with ADHD based on the data, says Tushar Girinath, Commissioner at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Sattvam Clinic, a 27-year-old establishment, currently specialises in treating children with ADHD through a combination of homeopathy medicine, clinical psychology and therapy.
Of the 10 schools in the pilot project, five are government schools and five private. Doctors at the clinic will hold a 2-3 hour session with teachers of class 1-6 of these schools. Teachers would be given basic information on ADHD; they will also be given forms in which they have to rate their individual students on ADHD symptoms.
On receiving the filled up forms, the clinic will assess the forms free of cost and send the data to the concerned schools. "If schools or parents approach us on specific cases, we will provide treatment to such children. All data will go to the DPI – we hope this will create awareness and prompt the department to take further action. General public and teachers may also become more aware," says Dr Deepak Shah, Director of Sattvam Clinic. The clinic already does ADHD assessment for eight private schools in the city.
Dr Shah says the prevalence of ADHD is high, but that it tends to be ignored by parents and teachers. He says that he gets about 40 cases of children with ADHD per month. Dr Shah says that awareness is necessary since many parents tend not to consult doctors.
Girinath says that data from the screening alone may not be enough to make a policy decision, but it would start off the process. "The 10 schools in the pilot project is a small sample. We will discuss with government’s ‘Ayush’ department for alternative medicine, and also allopathy doctors to know about prevalence rates and best course of treatment," he says.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a neurobiological disorder with symptoms like hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity.
Always on the move
Rarely follows instructions
Forgets and loses belongings
Shakes hands and feet continuously
Taps pencil or toys constantly
Runs around in the room
Gets angry easily
Has weak memory
Perform well in class
Wait for turn
Symptoms can be obvious in children as young as 4-5 years of age.
Children with ADHD may have difficulty concentrating, being organised and sitting quietly. They may move around constantly, frequently lose things and have temper tantrums. They are usually poor performers in school. Early indications are of teachers complaining about child’s behaviour and poor grades.
If not treated, the symptoms can progress into adulthood, and cause problems like difficulty in financial management, holding down jobs or even anti-social behaviour.
Dr Satheesh Girimaji, Professor and specialist in child psychiatry at NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences) cites a 2001 study by ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) done in and around Bangalore. The study shows that 1.7% of children in the age group of 4-16 years suffer from ADHD.
"About 30-40% of children with ADHD go on to lead normal lives after treatment. A small percentage may not respond to treatment," he says. In NIMHANS, behavioural therapy and other forms of psychosocial therapy is used in all cases. "Medication is needed in more severe cases only," says Dr Girimaji.
While allopathy medication helps manage ADHD, Dr Shah says that homeopathy also effectively manages ADHD markers. "There has not been much research in homeopathy on ADHD specifically. But homeopathy has medication for improving the functioning of neurons in the brain and correcting deficiencies of neurotransmitters, helping manage ADHD," he says.