Diagnosing a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be tricky. Children naturally have a lot of energy and short attention spans, but some of these normal child-like behaviors overlap with the common symptoms of ADHD.
Many parents avoid looking into whether their child might have ADHD because they don’t want their son or daughter taking unnecessary medication. While this is a completely valid concern, leaving ADHD left undiagnosed and untreated is of even greater concern. Your child may begin to act out, fall behind in school, and have trouble making friends.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Children
If you notice several of the following symptoms in your child that don’t seem to be common among their peers, meet with a doctor who can conduct a physical exam and possibly a brain scan.
Children with ADHD have a very hard time sitting still and are always fidgeting or squirming. While the rest of their class may be able to sit and complete a task, a child with ADHD may have to get up and do something else.
No matter how many times you tell them not to, a child with ADHD will often interrupt others while they are talking. In class, they may forget to raise their hand to answer questions and have a hard time taking turns with toys or games.
Parents of children with ADHD will notice that their child tends to trail off into their own world when they are playing or even when they are being spoken to. You may notice they essentially tune out and have a blank look on their face while in the middle of a task.
Trouble Following Instructions
Since it’s difficult for them to focus on things they aren’t particularly interested in, children with ADHD often forget or don’t understand even the simplest of instructions.
Under guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors should only diagnose ADHD in children after a child has shown at least six symptoms regularly for more than six months. They may recommend:
- Behavioral therapy
- Diet changes
- Assistance at school
If your child is regularly showing signs of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention that seem to be unusual for their age group, it may be time to contact a mental health professional who can help set your child up for success.