According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD in Children) is a behavior disorder, usually first diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity. These symptoms usually occur together; however, one may occur without the other(s). If only inattention is present but not impulsivity or hyperactivity, the diagnosis is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) rather than ADHD in Children, The symptoms of hyperactivity, when present, are almost always apparent by the age of 7 and may be present in very young preschoolers. Inattention or attention-deficit may not be evident until a child faces the expectations of elementary school.
The Mayo Clinic states that ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD may also struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age. However, some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms. But they can learn strategies to be successful. While treatment won’t cure ADHD in Children, it can help a great deal with symptoms. Treatment typically involves medications and behavioral interventions. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in outcomes. ADHD in Children is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood.
The primary features of ADHD in children include inattention and hyperactive/impulsive behavior. ADHD symptoms start before age 12, and in some children, they’re noticeable as early as 3 years of age. ADHD symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe, and they may continue into adulthood. ADHD occurs more often in males than in females, and behaviors can be different in boys and girls. For example, boys may be more hyperactive, and girls may tend to be quietly inattentive.
There are three subtypes of ADHD in Children:
- Predominantly inattentive type. The majority of symptoms fall under inattention.
- Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type. The majority of symptoms are hyperactive and impulsive.
- Combined type. This is a mix of inattentive symptoms and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
A child who shows a pattern of inattention may often:
- Fail to pay close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork
- Have trouble staying focused on tasks or play
- Appear not to listen, even when spoken to directly
- Have difficulty following through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork or chores
- Have trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Avoid or dislike tasks that require focused mental effort, such as homework
- Lose items needed for tasks or activities, for example, toys, school assignments, pencils
- Be easily distracted
- Forget to do some daily activities, such as forgetting to do chores
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity of ADHD in Children
A child who shows a pattern of hyperactive and impulsive symptoms may often:
- Fidget with or tap his or her hands or feet, or squirm in the seat
- Have difficulty staying seated in the classroom or in other situations
- Be on the go, in constant motion
- Run around or climb in situations when it’s not appropriate
- Have trouble playing or doing an activity quietly
- Talk too much
- Blurt out answers, interrupting the questioner
- Have difficulty waiting for his or her turn
- Interrupt or intrude on others’ conversations, games or activities
Typical developmental behavior versus ADHD in Children
Most healthy children are inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive at one time or another. It’s typical for preschoolers to have short attention spans and be unable to stick with one activity for long. Even in older children and teenagers, attention span often depends on the level of interest.
The same is true of hyperactivity. Young children are naturally energetic — they often are still full of energy long after they’ve worn their parents out. In addition, some children just naturally have a higher activity level than others do. Children should never be classified as having ADHD just because they’re different from their friends or siblings.
Children who have problems in school but get along well at home or with friends are likely struggling with something other than ADHD. The same is true of children who are hyperactive or inattentive at home, but whose schoolwork and friendships remain unaffected.
When to see a doctor
If you’re concerned that your child shows signs of ADHD in Children, see your pediatrician or family doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or pediatric neurologist, but it’s important to have a medical evaluation first to check for other possible causes of your child’s difficulties.
This article is provided by Dr. Ralph Kueche (Child Psychologist). Dr. Kuechle is a Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychologist who specializes in treating children and their families who may be struggling with mood and behavioral issues. Learn more about Dr. Kuechle.