Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, better known as ADHD, is a condition that involves symptoms of either inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity or a combination of both that get in the way of a child’s ability to function in daily life.
SYMPTOMS OF INATTENTION CAN INCLUDE:
- Daydreaming or difficulty paying attention
- Whenever the teacher looks at her student, he is looking out the window
- Difficulty staying on-task
- The student starts working on her worksheet and gets up frequently to sharpen her pencil, blow her nose and use hand sanitizer
- Giving up quickly on difficult tasks
- The student reaches a problem on his worksheet that he doesn’t know and he pushes his worksheet on the ground, refusing to go on
- Being disorganized
- The child’s room has toys, clothes, dishes and wrappers scattered on the floor
SYMPTOMS OF HYPERACTIVITY CAN INCLUDE:
- High activity level that is not age-appropriate
- The child desires to run, jump and climb as often as possible during the day
- Regular fidgeting
- The student taps his feet constantly during the school day
- Excessive talking
- The student talks to her classmates constantly during work time; when a limit is set on how often she can talk, she struggles to follow the limit.
SYMPTOMS OF IMPULSIVITY CAN INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- Hasty decisions that place the child or others at risk for harm
- When a ball rolls into the street, the child runs to get it without looking for cars
- Need for instant gratification
- When the student answers a question on his worksheet, he immediately asks his teacher to tell him if he got it right
- Regularly interrupting others with body or voice
- When the student’s classmate is sharing details of his weekend, she interrupts and starts talking about her own weekend
ADHD can be difficult to diagnose in the early childhood years, because it is age appropriate for children to act impulsively, have poor attention spans and have high levels of energy.
However, children who are later diagnosed with ADHD often have symptoms in the early childhood years that were ignored or dismissed as no big deal by well-meaning pieces of advice like, “She’ll grow out of it” or “He’s all boy.”
If you notice any of these symptoms individually, or a combination of them, you should talk with your doctor immediately to see if your concerns are related to normal, age-appropriate behavior or signs of a more serious disorder.
Diagnosing this disorder requires an assessment process that includes observation, testing and questionnaires. In order to receive an accurate diagnosis of ADHD, it is best to meet with a Licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist who is trained in assessing and diagnosing ADHD.
Once your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, research suggests that a combination of medication and counseling therapy be used to manage the symptoms of ADHD. The treating counselor should work closely with the child’s medication prescriber, as well as the child’s parents, childcare providers and teachers to help the child manage the symptoms of ADHD in a variety of settings.
Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD often have much more difficulty in structured classroom settings than they do at home, so it is essential to include child care providers and teachers in the treatment process.
At Encompass Mental Health, I work with children up to age 10 that have been diagnosed with ADHD. Services may include individual therapy, group therapy, parenting/family therapy and consultation with childcare and education staff. No matter what combination of services are involved, my main goal is to offer support and guidance to parents and child care or education staff as they help this child to learn how to manage ADHD symptoms and function at a more age-appropriate level.
ADHD can be a very challenging diagnosis to understand, but with help and resources, your child can live a happy, fulfilling life. Contact me today to set up an appointment and make the shift from struggling to understand ADHD to helping your child thrive with ADHD.