How Do I Know If My Child Has ADHD

Featured image of little girl with ADHD playing with toys on floor

You’ve probably already heard the term ADHD or ADD, and it’s no wonder since the media and people like throwing around that term too often. Some people are really concerned that ADHD may be diagnosed too frequently and that children are treated with medication for various kinds of behaviors or simple toddler tantrums.

On the other hand, there are people who are concerned that some children are not properly diagnosed or they are concerned about the under-identification of this disease. This can later lead to delays in initiating treatment and as a result, children may continue to struggle and are at risk for developing some further problems. So, let’s see what ADHD really is, what are the signs of ADHD in children, and how you can deal with it.

What Is ADHD and What Does It Stand For?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is something that kids, teens and adults can have, and about 1 person in every 20 people has it. 

It really doesn’t matter how old you are or what is your profession – office worker, athlete, teacher, doctor, banker, movie star, etc. – you can have ADHD and still have a normal life. This disorder is thought to be caused by differences in development in the brain that affects the parts that control concentration, attention, activity levels, memory, and impulsivity. Roughly, this means that a child’s behavior can range from “very dreamy” to being “always on the go”. 

A person that has ADHD struggles with filtering out the information that comes into their brain, which makes them easily distracted. Also, they tend to respond before they have thought about things properly and they often don’t know when to stop. A child that suffers from ADHD needs more time to settle and concentrate and they may have problems with following even the simplest instructions. Such children may have above-average intelligence, but it is hard for them to learn, and they often have problems socializing.

What you need to remember is that ADHD is not a sign of bad parenting. Rather, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed on time so your child can get the treatment they need. So, if you’ve ever asked yourself “does my child have ADHD?”, you should read on for the signs and help with dealing with such a problem.

What Is the Difference Between Add and ADHD

ADD and ADHD are the same thing. ADD stands for attention deficit disorder, which is just the shorter version of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

There are different names for this disorder, including minimal brain damage, minimal brain dysfunction, hyperkinetic reaction of childhood, but those were used before the 80s. Today, you will hear the shorter version of the name – ADD – more often with the common people, while doctors use the longer one – ADHD.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Kids

So, to answer your question of how do I know if my child has ADHD. There are three core symptoms of ADHD:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Inattention

Hyperactivity

This is the first and most common of many signs of ADHD in children. Hyperactivity is mostly linked with even hearing the term ADHD. It is often expressed through having excessively high levels of activity, which may be presented both as physical and verbal overactivity. Children who are hyperactive often appear to be in constant motion and on the go, as if they were driven by a motor. Also, they have difficulties keeping still and they are constantly fidgeting and squirming. What is more, their behavior can often be loud and disruptive and they will blurt out words, sentences and interrupt conversations. 

Impulsivity

Impulsivity is another symptom that can help you answer the question “How do I know if my child has ADHD?”. Children who are impulsive often have trouble inhibiting their own behaviors and responses and they often speak before thinking and reacting fast without considering the consequences. They may also interrupt others, blurt out responses and rush through their assignments without reading or listening to instructions. Also, waiting for their turn is extremely hard for them and they are impatient. They prefer speed over accuracy and that’s why they usually complete their tasks quickly and carelessly. This lack of control can be dangerous and it can cause stress at school and in their relationships with others. 

Inattention

Inattention means that your child has difficulties staying focused and attending to tasks that they find mundane. Because of this lack of focus, they often procrastinate doing their homework or any other task, because they need a great deal of mental energy in order to complete such tasks. Also, they are easily distracted by some irrelevant activities, sights and sounds and they quickly shift from one thing to another and get bored easily. 

In addition to lack of focus, they often may appear forgetful and spacey or confused. Additionally, they may appear like they’re not listening to you when you talk to them, and organization and task completion feel difficult. 

Of course, there is a long list of behaviors that your child with ADHD may express that can also be a sign of ADHD. These include:

  • Being squirmish in the seat and often fidgety.
  • Your child may also often leave a seat in situations when they are expected to be calm and in one place (e.g. classrooms)
  • Often climbing and running in situations when it’s inappropriate – restlessness
  • Often being unable to play or engage in fun and relaxing activities quietly
  • Your child also may blurt out answers even before the question has been completed; being unable to wait their turn in a conversation

What Causes ADHD

Now that you are familiar with the symptoms of ADHD in kids, you should know what can cause it. Many experts believe that ADHD is partly caused by the brain’s inability to develop its part that affects behavior as it should be developed. As a consequence, this leads to the imbalance of chemicals that transmit messages to the brain and that’s why kids with ADHD have troubles with controlling their behavior. Some of the main factors include:

  • The very temperament of a child, which affects a child’s attitude and personality. 
  • A genetic link – recent studies have shown that around 89 percent of the risk fo being diagnosed with ADHD is genetic. This is why this disorder tends to run in families. 
  • Also, subtle insults to the brain can lead to ADHD. These could occur either before birth or the trauma could happen during birth, which later results in the brain developing differently. 

There are also some aspects of the family environment found in common with children with ADHD – for example, family stress. However, it isn’t clear if these factors can actually cause ADHD, but they could increase the likelihood of its development with a child that is already genetically prone to it. 

Besides knowing what could cause ADHD and looking for signs of ADHD in children of yours, you should know what definitely doesn’t cause this disorder:

  • Poor parenting doesn’t cause ADHD, even though parenting styles can affect your child’s behavior. 
  • Diet also doesn’t cause this disorder although dietary supplements may help, such as fish oil.

How to Deal with ADHD Child

Whether your child has symptoms of ADHD in kids, including inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, they can cause future problems if you leave them untreated. Since your child might have trouble focusing and controlling themselves, they may struggle in school and while learning, or they could get in trouble and find it hard to make friends. These can lead to low self-esteem in the future and can put stress on the whole family. 

Treatment can make a dramatic positive difference in your child’s symptoms and their future relationships. They need the right support and with it they can get on track for success in many areas of life. So, if you do notice signs of ADHD in children of yours, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Treatment starts with therapy, implementing a better diet and exercises in their daily life and modifying the home environment in order to minimize distractions. 

If you do receive a diagnosis of ADHD, your options are to work with your child’s doctor, therapist and school in order to personalize treatment plan and meet the needs of your child. This involves behavioral therapy, assistance at school, social support, and parent education and traning. Also, you can decide to get your child on medication, but this should never be the only ADHD treatment you’re going to implement. 

As a parent, there are numerous things you can do in order to help your child win the battle against ADHD. 

Firstly, take care of yourself so you can be able to take care of your child. This includes eating right, getting enough exercise and sleep and finding ways to reduce stress. Also, don’t forget to seek support and advice from family, friends and your child’s doctor and teachers. 

Have a plan and stick to it. In order to help your child stay focused and neatly organized, you should teach them how to follow a daily routine. This means you should have your own, where your child will be included and show them how easy it can be. 

Encourage exercise and sleep. In order to successfully help your child control their hyperactivity, you need to encourage exercising. What is more, physical activity can improve your kids’ concentration and it encourages brain growth. Also, physical activity will lead to better sleep, which can, in turn, reduce the symptoms of ADHD in kids. 

Help them have a proper diet. In order to manage the symptoms of ADHD, you should make sure your child has a healthy diet. So, you should schedule regular meals filled with healthy nutrients and make sure you and your child stick to it. Also, cut out sugary and junk food and find proper substitutes for snacks.

Use proper ADHD aids. You can do a lot to help your child. This includes fidget ADHD toys i.e. hyperactivity toys and many ADHD activities to keep their minds busy and engaged.

Set clear expectations. If you want your child to work on their behavior, they have to understand what they’re doing wrong and what is expected from them. So, make simple rules of behavior and explain to your child why they are here. Also, let them know what will happen if they behave well, and what will happen if the rules are broken. Don’t forget to follow through with a reward or consequence each time!

Teach your child how to make friends. Since making friends while having ADHD is tough, you have to help them learn about that. You should teach them how to be a better listener, how to read people’s faces and body language and how to react to those. Also, teach them how to interact with other kids smoothly and how to be more patient and wait their turn. 

Teach them how to behave at school. It is hard enough having ADHD and staying still at home, but in school, this can be impossible for your child. Not only do they miss out on learning, but they may distract others by running around or zoning out. Your role here is to talk to the teachers and see how you can help your child be more attentive. Maybe you will have to get a professional sit with them during classes keeping them occupied and focused on their class. On the other hand, you can try and simulate a classroom at home and teach your child how to behave. However, take it easy and slow, so your child won’t get distracted and mad at you for doing this at home.

ADHD is not something you should ignore. If you’ve ever asked yourself if your child has ADHD or you’ve noticed some of the signs of ADHD in children of yours, don’t hesitate to talk to a professional. Take your child to the therapist, learn about types of ADHD and how to help your child in the best way. If you start treatment on time, your child will have no difficulties correcting their behavior, but if you neglect it, your child may lead a difficult life.

Author: Catherine Evans
Author: Catherine Evans

Catherine is a writer from Canada who simply loves toys, collectibles and superhero figurines. Writing is her passion, but she also loves reading, enjoying her “me time” and finding new ways to improve her work and ways to entertain the readers.

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