Have you noticed that your child’s attention seems to wander and that they have trouble staying focused on tasks at home and at school? Maybe their grades are slipping because they’re having difficulty sitting still and concentrating on in-class activities and homework. If your son or daughter struggles with these kinds of issues, you might want to consider the possibility that he or she could have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
The National Institute of Mental Health defines ADHD as “a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.” The symptoms can show up as early as the age of 3 and might get mistaken for signs of emotional issues or disciplinary problems.
Although the estimated percentage of children with ADHD has shifted over time, roughly 11% of children ages 4-17 had been diagnosed with it at some point as of 2011-12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you’re concerned that your child might have ADHD, here are a few essential facts you should know about the condition.
1. Only a trained healthcare provider can diagnose ADHD. As a parent, you can’t determine whether your child has ADHD or not without assistance from a healthcare professional, the CDC states. However, it can help to complete a checklist of symptoms based on your observations of your son’s or daughter’s behavior before visiting a specialist.
Some of the potential signs of ADHD include the following, if they’re present for at least six months and deemed inappropriate for a child developmentally. The symptoms fall into two main categories: Impulsivity/hyperactivity and inattention. Please note that these are just some of the possible indicators of the condition.
- Easily distracted
- Trouble paying close attention to detail/making careless mistakes when doing schoolwork (and other activities)
- Not listening/seeming to listen when spoken to
- Doesn’t follow instructions and/or doesn’t finish schoolwork, workplace duties, chores, etc.
- Frequent fidgeting and squirming
- Getting up often when expected to stay seated
- Running around and/or climbing at inappropriate times/places
- Excessive talking
- Frequent interrupting
2. It’s unclear what exactly causes ADHD. Scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint what causes ADHD yet, according to NIMH. Similar to other illnesses and disorders, it can result from a mix of risk factors such as genetics, exposure to environmental toxins, and/or brain injuries.
3. Diagnosing ADHD takes a few steps. There isn’t just one test that can determine whether or not a child has ADHD, and other disorders (e.g., anxiety and some learning disabilities) can have similar symptoms, according to the CDC. The diagnostic process can include a medical exam, completing a checklist of symptoms, and speaking with parents, teachers, and possibly the child to put together a patient history.
4. ADHD doesn’t have a cure, but there are treatments available. These include medication (stimulants and non-stimulants), psychotherapy, and parental education and/or training, NIMH states. Treatment plans might include a combination of these.
5. Early intervention is crucial. If you think your child might have ADHD, getting help as soon as possible is important if you want him or her to succeed and thrive at school and at home, the CDC states. Talk to your pediatrician or reach out to your early intervention agency or public school for assistance.
Pediatric developmental therapy can also help children with ADHD achieve their full potential and thrive both in and outside of the classroom. Our pediatric therapists love kids and aim to empower parents with the information they need to make the most out of our pediatric developmental therapy services. To learn more, contact us today by calling 847-707-6744 or emailing [email protected].