ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a disorder that typically affects an individual’s behavior. It is a common mental disorder among children. It is prevalent in school-aged kids where symptoms can be best observed.
The condition of ADHD is so common that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted 11% of children are affected by it.
But how will you know that your child has ADHD? Is it possible to observe ADHD symptoms in kids even without the help of diagnostic tests and laboratory results? The attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has no diagnostic or laboratory tests. Its diagnosis will merely rely on the symptoms that your child may be exhibiting and how it affects his behavior at home, while at school, and in other social settings. The criteria for the diagnosis of ADHD are based on the data from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association).
Understanding The ADHD Symptoms In Kids
Children with ADHD have attention and hyperactivity/impulsivity problems. Some children may only show symptoms related to inattention, while some only display symptoms related to hyperactivity and impulsivity. However, there are also cases where children manifest both behaviors. To be diagnosed with ADHD, a kid should show either of these symptoms for not less than six months:
- Commit careless mistakes in schoolwork and activities
- Overlook and miss details
- Forgetfulness of daily activities such as chores and other errands
- Cannot sustain attention in a specific activity such as lectures, conversations, tasks and even while playing
- Easily distracted by unrelated stimuli and thoughts
- Always keeps losing things
- Appear to be not listening when you are talking directly to them
- Avoid or dislike tasks which require mental effort and long attention span
- Fail to finish home and school works
- Cannot organize tasks and activities no matter how simple it is
- Have a messy workplace and poor time management skills
- Always fidgets and squirms in the seat
- Always interrupts or intrudes others during discussions, while playing and in other activities
- Cannot patiently wait for his or her turn
- Cannot stay in one place even if the situation calls for it
- Leave their seats even during classroom discussions
- Blurts out answers suddenly even if not being asked
- Non-stop talking
- Always on the go
- Acts as if driven by a motor
- Runs or dashes around everywhere
These symptoms may appear as early as at age 3 or age 6. Symptoms of this disorder can continue until the child reaches adolescence and adulthood, if not properly managed or treated. ADHD is often misdiagnosed because it can be missed in quiet, and well-behaved children with inattention problems. While the delay in diagnosing hyperactivity is frequently attributed to the common misconception that the symptoms being displayed by the child are simply because he wants to gain attention or as a result of emotional or disciplinary problems.
Adults who have not been diagnosed correctly with ADHD during their younger years may experience problems at work, have poor academic performance or face problems in maintaining healthy relationships.
Phases Of ADHD Symptoms In Kids
ADHD symptoms also change as the child becomes mature.
- Young Children: predominant symptoms are the ones related to hyperactivity and impulsivity behaviors.
- Elementary Years: inattention signs are visible and become more evident as he or she struggles to maintain academic standing.
- Adolescence: there is a marked reduction in hyperactivity, but feelings of restlessness or fidgeting are evident.
- Impulsivity And Inattention Symptoms May Remain. Adolescents suffering from ADHD may also experience antisocial behavior that may continue up to adulthood.
Related Conditions In Children
ADHD may not happen as is, but can also appear alongside other conditions that need proper diagnosis and treatment as well.
- Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorder will often lead your child to feel nervous and worry about something. It can also cause other physical symptoms such as sweating, dizziness, and heart palpitations.
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a disorder which significantly affects the way your child behaves and interacts socially. Communication skills, behavior and other interests also differ from other children of the same age.
- Conduct Disorder. Conduct disorder may cause parents a terrible headache because the child usually manifests strong antisocial behavior that can lead to problems with the law such as stealing, vandalizing, fighting and harming other people or animals.
- Depression. Depression is a feeling of hopelessness and is often meekly accepted by many.
- Epilepsy. Epilepsy results in repeated seizures or fits because of some condition affecting the brain.
- Learning Difficulties. Learning difficulties such as dyslexia may come alongside ADHD as well.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). In cases of ODD, the person affected has a disruptive and negative take on his or her relationships with authority figures such as teachers and parents.
- Sleep Problems. Children with ADHD may experience irregular sleep patterns and may find it difficult to sleep at night.
- Tourette’s Syndrome. A child with Tourette’s syndrome may experience tics, a combination of involuntary and uncontrolled movements and noises.
Also Read: Understanding Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder
Can It Be Treated?
Treatment of ADHD often involves medication and therapy. Though, having a strong support system comprising family, friends and support groups is also beneficial for an ADHD-affected child to limit and prevent symptoms:
- Medication. Certain psychiatric medications such as stimulants, non-stimulants, and antidepressants are prescribed for the affected child. It is important that you coordinate with your child’s physician about the drugs given along with its side effects, dosage, and withdrawal methods/symptoms.
- Therapy. Behavioral therapy is the most used therapy to treat ADHD among children. In this therapy, the child is taught to monitor his behavior and provides assistance for him to be able to organize tasks as well as complete other activities even if these are stressful
- Support Groups. Support groups can help those affected by the disorder and the family members as well. It is a place where you can let out your frustrations about the disease and your success stories of fighting it alongside people who can relate to you in one way or another.