signs and symptoms of adhd in children

signs and symptoms of adhd in children by dr. rosha hebsur

dr_rosha

While many young children can be described as impulsive and having short attention spans, those with true attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have difficulties in most aspects of their lives, including social, familial, and educational. ADHD is one of the most common behavior and brain disorders in children, and as we become more familiar with its symptoms and etiology, the number of children diagnosed will continue to rise. I hope that this brief summary on the various aspects of ADHD will serve as a stepping stone for parents in identifying early signs of this disorder so that they may seek the professional care necessary for the management of ADHD. Once your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it is up to you, as parents, to decide on the best course of action for your child. In some circumstances, you may decide that visiting or using a telehealth service to speak with a counselor is in the best interest of your child, (click here to learn more about child psychology counseling via telehealth). This could help to make a significant difference in being able to help manage a child with this disorder. With appropriate and consistent treatment, children accurately diagnosed with ADHD may be able to perform well in school, improve relationships with their peers, and complete tasks at home. The choice is up to you in which route you wish to take with said treatment.

Symptoms:

Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the fundamental behavioral difficulties of children with ADHD. These symptoms have to be observed to a significant degree for at least 6 months by ADHD Drs.

Children who have impaired inattention may:

  • Fail to give close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.
  • Have trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork or chores.
  • Have trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • Avoid doing tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Lose things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books)
  • Be easily distracted
  • Be forgetful in daily activities.

Children who have hyperactivity and impulsivity may:

  • Fidget or squirm in seat.
  • Leave seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • Run around or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate.
  • Be unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • Have trouble sitting still.
  • Talk excessively.
  • Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • Have trouble waiting his/her turn.
  • Interrupt others

Children who have primarily inattention problems may be more difficult to identify. These children typically sit quietly in class and may not catch the teacher’s attention as quickly as the child who cannot sit still and who requires more of the teacher’s resources.

Treatment:

  • Medications – Many families struggle with medicating young children; however, with appropriate management and follow-up, many children benefit from ADHD medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, or Strattera. Some people believe that you can Treat ADHD Without Medication too!
  • Behavioral therapy – Effective treatments include a combination of medication management as well as behavioral therapy and parent education. Behavioral therapy may include helping the child organize tasks, learn to praise themselves for achieving a desired goal, and regulate their emotions.
  • Social skills training – Used to help children improve relationships with their peers.
  • Parent and teacher education – Encouraged to provide positive feedback, clear rules, and structured routines.

Tips for parents of children with ADHD:

  • Set clear and consistent limits.
  • Be patient and non-blaming.
  • Keep a structured routine by scheduling everyday tasks, such as homework, chores, and playtime.
  • Provide specific praise by pointing out what your child did well.
  • Model appropriate social and emotional behavior by regulating your own emotions.
  • Help your child make lists of tasks, including age-appropriate chores and homework.
  • Divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Have reasonable expectations for what your child can achieve so that you set him/her up for success.
  • Organize everyday items such as clothing, backpack, and toys, so that your child remembers where items are kept.
  • Seek professional help for yourself if you find it difficult to cope with the responsibilities of being a parent of a child with ADHD.

A few resources that may be helpful for parents:

  • http://www.chadd.org/
  • http://www.help4adhd.org
  • http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/ADHD_Resource_Center/Home.aspx

Rosha Hebsur, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist who has worked with children, adolescents and adults. She has experience with the treatment of eating disorders, trauma and a variety of other mental health issues. Currently, she works part-time at a psychiatric forensic hospital. Her other part-time job is momma to a naughty toddler!

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