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Signs Your Child May Have ADHD

By Jamell Andrews

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is believed to affect about 4 million kids in the U.S. and millions more throughout the world. Over the last several years, ADHD has often been seen a trendy diagnosis, with many people dismissing it as a mere personality trait rather than a problem that warrants treatment. But while there are actually some benefits to mild ADHD, any parent of a severely ADHD child knows that this condition can be quite detrimental, especially when it comes to school. Kids with ADHD often have trouble focusing in class, and they tend to act up in ways that may earn them reputations as problem students.

Diagnosing ADHD can be challenging because every child with this condition is different. However, the one thing that all parents of kids with this condition have in common is that they sense their children aren’t normal. Children with ADHD often have trouble fitting in, and they may even have negative emotional responses to their conditions from very early on. Parents tend to notice these things, yet they may not realize it is ADHD until years into a child’s life.

ADHD in early childhood

The first symptoms of ADHD tend to arrive during early childhood. In fact, many mothers of hyperactive children say they remember their unborn babies kicking unusually vigorously in the womb, and there is also plenty of anecdotal evidence saying that colicky babies tend to develop ADHD later in life. Neither of these claims have been scientifically proven.

By preschool age, the symptoms should become much more apparent. If you hear form your child’s preschool teacher that he has trouble following directions, sitting still, or controlling his emotions, this is a good sign that ADHD may be a factor. Even at this age, children with attention-deficit and hyperactivity tend to have a high level of energy, and this is shown in practically everything they do. In some cases, it may even lead to fights with other children or behaviors that may be perceived as aggressive.

ADHD in older kids

During elementary school, the signs of ADHD become particularly apparent. You can tell certain things about a child by how she acts at home, but these behaviors become most troublesome at school, which is why the condition is rarely diagnosed until children are in the 7-12 age range. At this age, some of the most common symptoms of AHDH include:

  • difficulty paying attention or staying seated during long hours of school;
  • trouble listening and following directions;
  • aversion to homework (rooted in difficulty with such tasks);
  • absentmindedness, often leading to forgetfulness and frequently losing items;
  • excessive talking, even when the child is supposed to be quiet;
  • requent fidgeting;
  • constant feelings of restlessness;
  • difficulty waiting in lines or taking turns with other children.

During adolescence, untreated ADHD can lead to additional problems, which may include depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Meanwhile, consistent poor performance in school may create conditions where the child is more likely to act out and join the rebellious crowd at school. In most cases, taking care of ADHD early on can get a child on track.

Dealing with ADHD

Every child is hyper or inattentive from time to time. In general, even a moderately above-average amount of hyperactivity is nothing to be worried about and probably does not require treatment. However, when a child’s attention-deficit or hyperactivity leads to poor school performance, self-destructive behavior, or frequent fighting with other children, intervention becomes necessary.

If you suspect that your child’s hyperactive behaviors may be signs of ADHD, then you might want to consider consulting with your family doctor about whether a medical evaluation is necessary. If it proves that your child does have ADHD, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options.

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