These days, it’s no wonder that parents of active children fret about whether their kids have ADHD as they watch them tear across the yard, knock other children over, fail to listen, or make any effort to curtail their impulses. In the U.S., approximately 11% of children under 18 years of age are diagnosed with ADHD and about 6% are on medication. When it comes to chronic childhood conditions, ADHD is the undisputed king.
Active Or ADHD?
Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a condition diagnosed in both children and adults who display persistent, sustained behavioral patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and often impulsivity. Your toddler is sure to be full of energy, but by no means does that indicate that he or she suffers from any chronic behavioral condition.
At young ages, it’s very difficult to separate normal developmental behavior from the unique brain wiring classic to those diagnosed with ADHD. In fact, most diagnoses don’t happen until the child is about seven years of age. By then, most kids have developed the capacity to exert some level of impulse control, and can pay attention and sit still for at least a limited amount of time. Kids who continue to struggle can then be tested by mental health professionals to determine whether stumbling blocks in these areas are simply a delay in maturation or something more chronic.
Signs And Symptoms
While it may ease your mind that normal toddler and preschooler behavior may mimic signs of ADHD, it still doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for persistent symptoms. Early intervention is the key to nipping in the bud the frustration, poor academic achievement, and social difficulties that can arise when the condition remains undiagnosed and untreated. The three general symptoms of ADHD—attention problems, hyperactivity issues, and impulsivity—manifest in different and often intertwined ways.
Classic Signs Of Inattention
– Excessive daydreaming that interferes with academics
– Problems remembering and following multi-step instructions
– Frequent unfinished homework, tests, or other tasks that require focus
– Difficulty repeating back what has just been said
Classic Signs Of Hyperactivity
– Great difficulty in sitting in one place for any length of time
– Squirming or fidgeting constantly
Classic Signs Of Impulsivity
– Cuts in line, struggles to wait their turn
– Interrupts other people frequently
– Emotional outbursts, tantrums, and difficulty self-modulating
There are three sub-types of ADHD, so keep in mind that not every child will show every sign and symptom listed above. Should you suspect your son or daughter may be struggling with ADHD or another behavioral issue, don’t hesitate to speak to your pediatrician or a childhood mental health professional. Proper testing and evaluation is the first step to getting your child the treatment he needs and deserves.