Help for the Zappelphilipp

They fidget with their hands and feet, never spending much time on games or on their homework. They are often cheeky and burst out with answers before a question has even been put to an end. Such children are a real ordeal. For parents, siblings, kindergarten or school. The disease, which affects around five percent of children in Germany, is not the result of parental errors, an intelligence deficit or malicious behavior.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The popularly called "Zappelphilipp syndrome" disease is a disability caused by congenital and acquired changes in the brain messenger metabolism. Officially, the disease is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is characterized by considerable impairments in the ability to concentrate and to attract attention, by inner restlessness and uncontrolled impulsivity.

In every fifth case, the children also suffer from a reading and writing difficulties (dyslexia). One third of the children have to repeat a grade at school, almost half are temporarily excluded from lessons, and one in ten is eventually expelled from school and ends up at the special school.

Good to handle, but not curable

According to current knowledge, the Zappelphilipp syndrome is indeed treatable, but not curable. In therapy, depending on the individual case, educational concepts, psychological support, exercise and behavioral therapy can be combined with the administration of drugs (active ingredient methylphenidate). The drug activates the excitation system of the brain stem and leads to the increased release of messenger substances such as dopamine.

Some therapists explicitly rely on a treatment without medication - only through concentration training. At the Haunerschen Children's Hospital of the University of Munich, a team focused on the treatment of children through a special diet, mainly omitting sweets and dairy products. Even though Zappelphilipp syndrome is a common disease, factors such as nutrition, too-severe or too-lame parenting, and excessive TV viewing may significantly increase ADHD symptoms.

As early as possible to the doctor or psychologist

Through treatment, the sufferer learns to deal with his or her weaknesses and make better use of his or her existing abilities. As a result, school achievements are often improved, the child is no longer socially excluded by the classmates and, as a result, a healthy self-esteem is developed. It is important that the disease, which usually occurs in preschool age (between the fifth and the seventh year of life), is diagnosed exactly and as early as possible, and that by no means be administered by the parents on their own medication such as sedatives.

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