ADHD in children: Symptoms you need to know
Having a child is definitely a momentous and fulfilling life event for any parent. No matter the challenges you will face raising your child, this will be overshadowed with that cute smile or that endearing hug. Of course, as they say, kids will always be kids. They can get pretty rowdy at times, daydream a lot, act without thinking or can even become quite a handful.
But are your kid’s childish actions causing you concern and make you think that something is out of the ordinary? If you presume that your child has ADHD, then please continue reading below more about ADD in children and the corresponding symptoms that you need to lookout for.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is condition that affects children and adolescents and can continue on to adulthood. While ADHD is usually described as a common behavioral disorder, it actually only affects an estimate of 3% to 5% of children according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Interestingly, young boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed than young girls.
The reason for this is not yet clearly known. It is also linked that it is a biological disorder with 40% to 50% of children diagnosed with it has a parent or a close relative that also lived with ADHD. It affects the emotion, behavior and learning ability of a child.
When the term ADHD is mentioned, we often picture a rambunctious child that is bursting with energy who cannot stay still, keep focus or pay attention. We also think of them as having difficulty in following directions, restless and are getting easily bored with tasks and activities. Fidgeting, as well as the tendency to move around and being impulsive are common behaviors that we often associated with children affected with this disorder. To a point, we often label them as troublemakers, lazy or undisciplined.
Normal Behavior vs. ADHD
But you might ask, is this not normal child behavior? How then do you distinguish the difference between normal child behaviors versus ADHD? After all, being impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive are characteristics that are typical of a child.
There are two significant differences between the two. First, it occurs more over a longer period of time and within different settings. Secondly, it affects and interferes with the child’s ability to function in school, social settings and even at home.
Types of ADHD in Children
We often hear of the general ADHD term. But unknown to many, it is actually categorized into three distinct types. These are Predominantly Inattentive Type, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type and the Combination Type. The symptom that you observe that is most prominent basically informs which type your child may fall under.
- Predominantly Inattentive – This type shows more signs and symptoms of inattention, which is why it once was termed as Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD. Contrary to what our usual notion of what ADHD is, children of this type are not overly active, do not disrupt school activities and are most of the time the most difficult to detect. Young girls are also most commonly affected with this type according to the National Resource of ADHD.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive – This type is characterized with symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This is the total opposite of the Predominantly Inattentive Type. They are overly active and can sometimes cause disruptions, especially in school activities.
- Combined – From the term in itself, this type shows all the three symptoms of being inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive. It is also the most common type of ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD
But how do you spot if your child has ADHD? More than the general behaviors shown in the three types, here are symptoms that indicate that your child may have ADHD.
- Generally shows inability to pay attention to details
- Has the tendency to make careless errors in school works and other activities
- Has difficulty in sustaining attention in tasks
- Has evident listening problems or appears not to listen when spoken to
- Has difficulty in following instructions
- Shows signs of forgetfulness in doing daily activities
- Has a tendency to lose things
- Easily gets bored and distracted
- Has difficulty in learning new things and organizing thoughts
- Processes information slowly and less accurately
- Dislikes or avoids task that require mental effort
- Moves slowly
- Looks aloof and daydreaming
Predominantly Hyperactive/ Impulsive
- Shows signs of restlessness
- Often squirms and fidgets
- Has the tendency to move around and difficulty in remaining seated
- Excessively runs and climbs
- Always on the go and moving
- Exhibits talking excessively
- Has the impulse to constantly touch or play with objects
- Almost always talking and has trouble engaging in quiet activities
- Usually acts without thinking
- Blurts out inappropriately and has a tendency to interrupt conversations
- Some may exhibit quick temper, angry outbursts or temper tantrums
- Usually exhibits at least 6 symptoms from the Predominantly Hyperactive/ Impulsive and Inattentive Type
It should be noted that the child must have displayed these behaviors before the age of 7, must last for more than 6 months and has negatively affected at least two areas of the child’s life, like in school and at home.
While we often see these perceived negative signs of ADHD, you should also take note that children diagnosed with this condition manifests excellent creativity and imagination. This is because they process several thoughts at once and sometimes notice details that others may not see. Because of this, they can also show positive signs of flexibility in accepting different ideas. Their effervescence can also be translated to enthusiasm and spontaneity, which means that children with ADHD are never boring and can fun to be with.
Treatments and ADHD medication for children
While there are no known cure for ADHD, it can however be managed. There are actually several ADHD treatment options that are available. These include medications, behavioral therapy and alternative treatments like educational intervention and parent training.
However, a combination of medication and behavioral therapy has proven to yield the best results. Medications help curb impulsive behavior and attention difficulties, while behavioral therapy changes patterns and sets up a system of consistent rewards for appropriate actions and negative consequences for inappropriate ones, among many others.
Seek professional advice
When you notice these ADHD symptoms, it is still best that you professional medical advice. A behavioral therapist will be able to make a thorough assessment and prescribe the best treatment for your child.
But sometimes, you do not need to wait for a professional to make a diagnosis. If you notice any of these signs, you can take the necessary steps to gain control of the situation. Effective parenting strategies can definitely make a great impact in correcting problem behaviors. It can be a challenge but it is something you cannot overcome as a parent.