Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

Understanding ADHD For Professionals

ADHD means: Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder

It is a Neurodevelopmental Disorder. This means:

Everyone experiences these difficulties sometimes, although people with ADHD experience them more frequently, and more intensely.  Despite struggling with some things people with ADHD are also capable of things others find tricky! ADHD cannot be prevented or cured. But it is considered to be highly treatable; spotting it early, having a good treatment plan to identify strategies to support the child’s or young person’s difficulties.


Individuals with ADHD may experience difficulties in regulating their emotions. So, they may need support to recognise and monitor how they think, feel and behave.

Like everyone else, those with ADHD have emotions, however what varies is that they often feel these emotions more intensely and they may last longer, interfering with everyday life.

Those with ADHD have troubles with their emotions because they struggle with mental skills known as ‘executive functions’. These
functions include the ability to put things into perspective, think flexibly and exert control over impulses.

Having ADHD and trouble with Emotion Management can look like:


The diagnosis of ADHD depends on a strict set of criteria as set out by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders).

When to make a referral to CAMHS:

It is also beneficial to know children can present with the issues listed and not have ADHD. Factors such as genetics, early trauma and life experiences can also influence children’s behaviours and present very similarly to ADHD. 

A diagnosis is very rarely given before a child is 7 years of age as it is thought they may have a degree of immaturity in their general development which may improve if younger than 7 years old.  


The diagnosis of ADHD requires a detailed assessment made by specialists who utilise a variety of methods. There is not one single test for ADHD.

An ADHD assessment can include:

The assessment can be a lengthy process, especially if the child has other medical or mental health conditions. Plus, due to the depth of assessment required to diagnose ADHD a number of clinicians are involved in the process e.g. mental health nurses, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists.

This variety of different clinicians, all trained within their own field, are united in the process to provide the best support for both child and family. An ADHD assessment is usually only considered in children over 6 years old, due to the developmental stage of children below this age having common features of ADHD.



ADHD cannot be cured since it is caused by genetics and brain differences. However, it is considered to be highly treatable.


A multimodal treatment approach (more than one approach) is considered to be the most effective approach to manage symptoms of ADHD in children; one single intervention would not be considered best practice or lead to optimal outcomes.

What Treatment Is Available?

Psycho-education and parent training programmes focused upon behavioural approaches are considered in the first instance.

Many psychological therapies are effective in treating additional problems which commonly co-occur with ADHD, such as anxiety.

Medical treatment is not considered for school age children presenting with mild symptoms.

Medication is only considered for those over 6 if:

Websites, Resources & Books

What Should I tell the family?

If you have any concerns the child may be displaying signs and symptoms associated with ADHD within your professional capacity it is important that you discuss this with the parent/carer and child (if age appropriate) first and give rationale as to why you think it may be ADHD. 

You can signpost the family or offer referral for assessment (RFA) if felt appropriate.

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