ADHD in Children
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) is the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, affecting 3 to 7 percent of school-age children. The three main ADHD symptoms in children include inattention, hyperactivity and a tendency to be impulsive. These traits can lead to difficulties in school, poor interactions with other children and adults, and low self-esteem. Associated disorders can include anxiety, depression, difficult behavior (oppositional defiant disorder), tics and learning disabilities.
Does my child have ADHD?
Who should be evaluated for ADHD or related disorders? Children who exhibit any of the following behavioral characteristics:
- Academic difficulties
- Difficulties with attention span or excessive level of activity at home and in school
- Behavioral difficulties
The first step for parents seeking care and assistance for their children is a full evaluation by a physician – either a pediatric neurologist or psychiatrist specializing in ADHD. The physician will obtain a detailed medical history and perform a thorough physical and neurological examination.
A consultation with a psychologist specializing in ADHD is usually recommended. This may include an IQ test and evaluation for symptoms of ADHD and other conditions that can be associated or mistaken for ADHD.
Once the evaluation is complete, the physician will meet with the family to discuss and explain results.
Treatment options for ADHD
For children identified as having ADHD or associated disorders, ongoing management and support, may include:
- Psychological intervention for therapy or behavior modification
- Treatment with medication
- Recommendations related to special classes to meet the child’s needs
- Referral to support groups
ADHD Symptoms in Children
If your child exhibits several of these symptoms, he or she may be a candidate for evaluation by a team of professionals. Expand each section for more information.
- Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
- Has difficulty maintaining attention in tasks or play activities
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Does not follow directions and fails to complete schoolwork, chores, or, in adolescents, on-the-job duties
- Has difficulty organizing tasks or activities
- Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
- Is easily distracted
- Is often forgetful in daily activities
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
- Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
- Runs or climbs excessively when inappropriate
- Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
- Is always on the go or acts is if “driven by motor”
- Often talks excessively
- In adolescents, may be exhibited by feelings of restlessness
- Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
- Has difficulty waiting his/her turn
- Interrupts or intrudes on others (for example, butts into conversations or games)