It’s normal for children to occasionally forget their homework, daydream during class, act without thinking, or get fidgety at the dinner table. But inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are also signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). ADHD can lead to problems at home and school and affect your child’s ability to learn and get along with others. The first step to addressing the problem and getting your child the help he or she needs is to learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of ADHD.
WHAT IS ADHD OR ADD? We all know kids who can’t sit still, who never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions no matter how clearly you present them, or who blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Sometimes these children are labeled as troublemakers, or criticized for being lazy and undisciplined. However, they may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), formerly known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD. ADHD makes it difficult for people to inhibit their spontaneous responses—responses that can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness.
IS IT NORMAL KID BEHAVIOR OR IS IT ADHD? The signs and symptoms of ADHD typically appear before the age of seven. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between attention deficit disorder and normal “kid behavior.” If you spot just a few signs, or the symptoms appear only in some situations, it’s probably not ADHD. On the other hand, if your child shows a number of ADHD signs and symptoms that are present across all situations—at home, at school, and at play—it’s time to take a closer look.
Once you understand the issues your child is struggling with, such as forgetfulness or difficulty paying attention in school, you can work together to find creative solutions and capitalize on strengths.
IS ADHD TREATMENT HELPFUL? ADHD can be effectively treated in most cases, and improvement happens most quickly with the combination of medicines and behavior therapy. ADHD symptoms change as children grow. Both behavioral and medicine treatments need to be monitored, and may need some changes over time. Many students with ADHD now attend college, and there are many examples of successful adults with the condition.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK MY CHILD HAS ADD/ADHD? If you’re concerned about your child’s learning, behavior or attention, talk to your pediatrician and teachers and if appropriate have them evaluated and professionally tested by a Licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist. If your child is 5 years old or younger, it’s a good idea to have their hearing and vision checked.
HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD SUCCEED AT SCHOOL? Your child may be eligible to receive a 504 plan or Individual Educational Achievement Plan so they can receive accommodations and support to reduce the impact of ADHD on school achievement.
GETTING STARTED: If you believe that ADD is affecting your child, please call our Care Coordinators at 425.869.2644, ext. 0 who will guide you through the entire evaluation process. Once your child’s sessions have been scheduled, we will email you detailed instructions and the necessary paperwork to be completed prior to their first session.
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – Guide to ADHD or ADD, including how to tell if a child has attention deficit disorder and tips for parents. (Center for Parent Information & Resources)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Learn about the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment of attention deficit disorder. (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Parent’s Guide to ADHD (PDF) – Introduction to ADHD, written for parents. Covers causes, symptoms, and treatments. (Montana State University)
- Symptoms and Diagnosis – Guide to the symptoms of ADHD in children, including the signs of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- What is Hyperactivity? – Explores the signs of ADHD, including hyperactivity. Learn what to do if the doctor diagnoses your child. (Nemours Foundation)
- ADHD – A clear, simple, teen-oriented article about attention deficit disorder, including information about signs and symptoms in teenagers, ADHD and driving, and treatment. (Nemours Foundation)