Does your child often have trouble paying attention? Are they hyperactive? Do they have difficulty controlling their behavior?
Although these behaviors are pretty common in all kids, there are some children who take them to the extreme. If your child has much more difficulty focusing and sitting still than other children their age, it’s possible your child has Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.) Of course, there are many other things that can cause these difficulties, so the only way to know for sure is to go to a qualified health professional and have them complete an evaluation. However, you as a parent can be aware of the signs and symptoms of ADHD so you can bring it up to your health professional if necessary.
ADHD is a condition where someone has difficulty focusing, is overactive, and/or can’t control their behavior. There are three separate subtypes of ADHD, depending on which symptoms are present: 1. Inattentive (formerly known as ADD), 2. Impulsive/Hyperactive, and 3. Mixed (both inattention and impulsive/hyperactive.) It’s estimated that 3-7% of kids and teens have ADHD. Boys are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed as girls, but it’s somewhat unclear whether they are more likely to have the disorder or whether it’s just more noticeable in boys.
If you’re wondering if your child has ADHD, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to several of these, and these symptoms seem more extreme than in other kids your child’s age, you may want to have your child evaluated. Keep in mind that these questions apply to all ages.
Red Flag #1: Does your child have difficulty paying attention or concentrating? Are they easily distracted by unrelated things? This includes difficulty paying attention at school, home, and in other activities. (Note that just because your child can focus on TV or video games, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can focus. Because technology is so stimulating, many kids with ADHD can focus on these activities but can’t focus on other things.)
Red Flag #2: Does your child have significant difficulty completing schoolwork or chores? This may be because they don’t listen well to instructions, make careless mistakes, lose focus halfway through, or forget what they are supposed to do. Each of these can be a warning sign for ADHD.
Red Flag #3: Is your child disorganized or messy? Do they lose things frequently?
Red Flag #4: Does your child act like the Energizer Bunny? For
example, do they run when they aren’t supposed to? Do they fidget and squirm a lot? Do they get out of their seat when they’re supposed to stay still? This symptom is most common in younger kids, and frequently goes away as the child grows older.
Red Flag #5: Does your child talk too much? Do they interrupt others frequently?
Red Flag #6: Are these symptoms occurring in multiple environments, such as home, school, and daycare? Have these symptoms been occurring for more than six months? Are they causing your child to get in trouble or perform below their potential? (If your child only has difficulty focusing in one environment, it may be something about that specific environment that’s causing the problem, rather than ADHD.)
Red Flag #7: Is there anything else that may be causing these symptoms? For example, lack of sleep, not eating breakfast, eating unhealthy foods, or spending too much time using technology can all cause symptoms similar to ADHD. If you’re unsure, try to modify these things for at least a few weeks and see if it makes a difference.
Red Flag #8: Could it be anxiety or depression? Both of these can cause difficulty paying attention as well and may be mistaken for ADHD. If you’re unsure, read these checklists on anxiety and depression to see if this is a possibility.
Does your child experience any of these red flags? If so, make an appointment with a qualified health professional and share your concerns with them. Then click here to read the ten things you need to do if your child is diagnosed with ADHD.