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ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It affects between 0.5-5% of UK children, and is more common in boys than girls. APD stands for auditory processing disorder.

ADHD is characterised by:

  • Inattention - cannot listen or concentrate for long, cannot finish tasks, distractible, forgetful, disorganised
  • Overactive - unable to sit still, fidgety, restless, running about most of the time, constantly talking
  • Impulsive  - unable to wait or take turns, speaking without thinking about the consequences, interrupting

Children with APD may have difficulties with listening, or making sense of the sounds heard, particularly in environments with a lot of background noise. They usually have normal levels of hearing and normal intelligence. APD often becomes more obvious when children start at school.

What should I do?

If you think any of this sounds familiar, go to your GP and ask them to refer you to CAMHS. It will help to speak to teachers to see if the behaviour is the same at school.

Children with ADHD respond best to clear boundaries and consistent expectations, but this can be very difficult to maintain under the stress and strains of parenting.


It is important to do a full assessment to make sure there isn't another explanation for the behaviour, so a CAMHS worker will meet with the family and go through lots of questionnaires. These will also be sent to school so we can see if the behaviour is the same there as it is at home. There might be observations so we can see how things look outside of the clinic.


Sometimes we will recommend you complete a parenting course that is aimed at managing challenging behaviour in children. If medication is felt necessary, this will be discussed with your clinician. 

There are no medications to treat APD.

Sound discrimination is one of the main difficulties for those with APD. This means they can have trouble hearing the difference between certain sounds or may hear certain sounds incorrectly. They might say dat for that or free for three.

Speech therapy can help children with APD make those sounds better and more clearly. Speech therapists can also help children:

  • Improve perception of individual sounds (phonemes) in words, which can help with reading skills
  • Develop active listening skills, like asking a person to repeat directions
  • Use language appropriately in social situations

There are other treatments available.

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Moving on

If you have been treated in CAMHS you may not need to be referred on to adult mental health services.

Your GP and the local primary care team may be the only service involved in taking care of their mental health needs. GPs can provide the continuity for a young person and their family. They can refer to specialist services if needed.

The primary care team may be able to continue with the management of some disorders such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders. The team may also be able to provide or refer to counselling or psychological treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). They can also refer to adult mental health services if appropriate.

In some local areas, there may be a 16-19 services or team which help adolescents with mental health problems move from CAMHS to adult mental health services.

Some young people may have mental illness that can be more severe (requiring hospital treatment or review of medications prescribed for mental illness). They might have disabilities such as learning disabilities, along with their mental health problems. In this situation, the care and support is likely to be handed on to adult community mental health or adults with learning disability teams.

For parents/carers

As young people reach the later teenage years, parents may no longer be the main carers. Young adults begin to take on the responsibility to make decisions about their own care. For parents used to being involved in the decision-making about their child's treatment, may find themselves consulted less. It is important that parents feel able to contribute to the decision about on-going and future care.

For young people

The transition from childhood to adulthood can be a difficult for everybody. Taking responsibility for yourself and your treatment is something not all young people are able to do by a given age.

The most important part of leaving CAMHS is to be able to talk about what you need.

This means understanding your illness, medication if prescribed, your skills, abilities and needs in everyday life. You may need to ask professionals and people, such as family or friends that you know well, for their opinions. This will help you to make decisions about what support you might benefit from. Even if no specific service is available for you, it is important to ask.


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