ADHD in Children

Every child can be inattentive, squirmish and forgetful at times. When these qualities become so pravalent that it interferes with daily activity at school and at home, a parent should begin to think about asking a doctor if their child has ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. According to the Center for Disease Control, 6.4 million American children ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.

There are several different types of ADHD that can be in children:

  • Predominantly Inattentive: A child with this form of ADHD has more problems with inattention rather than impulsivity or hyperactivity. The child might have difficulty organizing or finishing a task, paying attention to details, or following instructions. More girls are diagnosed with this form of ADHD than boys.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive: As the name suggests, this type of ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity. A child with this type of ADHD fidgets frequently and is restless. They may talk constantly and have trouble engaging in quiet activities. The child's impulsivity might look like interrupting others frequently or speaking at inappropriate times. It might be hard for them to wait their turn. A child with impulsivity issues are more prone to accidents and injuries than normal.
  • Combination type: The National Institute of Mental Health explains that most children have combination type. This means a child does not show predominately one type of ADHD over the other. Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the child.

How does a child get diagnosed?

If you are concerned that your child might have ADHD, talk to your child's doctor. You can also take your child to a specialist such as a child psychologist or developmental pediatrician for further testing and to see if your child's symptoms could mean a different disorder.

There is no one specific test for ADHD. Rather it is a process that involves multiple people in the child's life. It is a good idea to bring in as many people that are prominently in the child's life (teachers, caretakers) to comment on your child's behavior so that the specialist can make as informed of a decision as possible. A trained specialist will ask you a myriad of questions such as what symptoms your child has, how long ago those symptoms started, and how the behavior affects your child and the rest of your family. There are also computerized tests that help evaluate your child's ability to pay attention for prolonged periods of time.

While there are cases of children diagnosed with ADHD before the age of 5 it is very difficult to diagnose. That's because many young children have some of the symptoms seen in ADHD in various situations. Also, children change very rapidly during the preschool years.

What do I do if my child is diagnosed?

Consult with your doctor to see what course of action they think best. Depending on the child's age, your doctor could recommend behavioral training by a licensed professional counselor, stimulant medications such as Adderall, or a combination of both. There is no one treatment that works for everyone, so consult with your child's doctor to see which dosage and/or therapy might be best to set up your child for a healthy life.