We all know kids who canâ€™t sit still, who never seem to listen, who donâ€™t follow instructions no matter how clearly you present them, or who blurt out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Sometimes these children are labeled as troublemakers, or criticized for being lazy and undisciplined. However, they may have ADD/ADHD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that appears in early childhood. You may know it by the name attention deficit disorder, or ADD. ADD/ADHD makes it difficult for people to inhibit their spontaneous responsesâ€"responses that can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness.Is it normal kid behavior or is it ADHD?
The signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD typically appear before the age of seven. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between attention deficit disorder and normal â€œkid behavior.â€
If you spot just a few signs, or the symptoms appear only in some situations, itâ€™s probably not ADD/ADHD. On the other hand, if your child shows a number of ADD/ADHD signs and symptoms that are present across all situationsâ€"at home, at school, and at playâ€"itâ€™s time to take a closer look.
Once you understand the issues your child is struggling with, such as forgetfulness or difficulty paying attention in school, you can work together to find creative solutions and capitalize on strengths.Myths about Attention Deficit DisorderMyth #1: All kids with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive.
Fact: Some children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive, but many others with attention problems are not. Children with ADD/ADHD who are inattentive, but not overly active, may appear to be spacey and unmotivated.Myth #2: Kids with ADD/ADHD can never pay attention.
Fact: Children with ADD/ADHD are often able to concentrate on activities they enjoy. But no matter how hard they try, they have trouble maintaining focus when the task at hand is boring or repetitive.Myth #3: Kids with ADD/ADHD could behave better if they wanted to.
Fact: Children with ADD/ADHD may do their best to be good, but still be unable to sit still, stay quiet, or pay attention. They may appear disobedient, but that doesnâ€™t mean theyâ€™re acting out on purpose.Myth #4: Kids will eventually grow out of ADD/ADHD.
Fact: ADD/ADHD often continues into adulthood, so donâ€™t wait for your child to outgrow the problem. Treatment can help your child learn to manage and minimize the symptoms.Myth #5: Medication is the best treatment option for ADD/ADHD.
Fact: Medication is often prescribed for attention deficit disorder, but it might not be the best option for your child. Effective treatment for ADD/ADHD also includes education, behavior therapy, support at home and school, exercise, and proper nutrition.The primary characteristics of ADD / ADHD
When many people think of attention deficit disorder, they picture an out-of-control kid in constant motion, bouncing off the walls and disrupting everyone around. But this is not the only possible picture.
Some children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive, while others sit quietlyâ€"with their attention miles away. Some put too much focus on a task and have trouble shifting it to something else. Others are only mildly inattentive, but overly impulsive.The three primary characteristics of ADD / ADHDWhich one of these children may have ADD/ADHD?
The correct answer is â€œC.â€
The three primary characteristics of ADD/ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The signs and symptoms a child with attention deficit disorder has depends on which characteristics predominate.
Children with ADD/ADHD may be:
Children who only have inattentive symptoms of ADD/ADHD are often overlooked, since theyâ€™re not disruptive. However, the symptoms of inattention have consequences: getting in hot water with parents and teachers for not following directions; underperforming in school; or clashing with other kids over not playing by the rules.Spotting ADD / ADHD at different ages
Because we expect very young children to be easily distractible and hyperactive, itâ€™s the impulsive behaviorsâ€"the dangerous climb, the blurted insultâ€"that often stand out in preschoolers with ADD/ADHD.
By age four or five, though, most children have learned how to pay attention to others, to sit quietly when instructed to, and not to say everything that pops into their heads. So by the time children reach school age, those with ADD/ADHD stand out in all three behaviors: inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.Hyperactivity signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD
It isnâ€™t that children with ADD/ADHD canâ€™t pay attention: when theyâ€™re doing things they enjoy or hearing about topics in which theyâ€™re interested, they have no trouble focusing and staying on task. But when the task is repetitive or boring, they quickly tune out.
Staying on track is another common problem. Children with ADD/ADHD often bounce from task to task without completing any of them, or skip necessary steps in procedures. Organizing their schoolwork and their time is harder for them than it is for most children.
Kids with ADD/ADHD also have trouble concentrating if there are things going on around them; they usually need a calm, quiet environment in order to stay focused.Symptoms of inattention in children:
The most obvious sign of ADD/ADHD is hyperactivity. While many children are naturally quite active, kids with hyperactive symptoms of attention deficit disorder are always moving.
They may try to do several things at once, bouncing around from one activity to the next. Even when forced to sit still which can be very difficult for them their foot is tapping, their leg is shaking, or their fingers are drumming.Symptoms of hyperactivity in children:
The impulsivity of children with ADD/ADHD can cause problems with self-control. Because they censor themselves less than other kids do, theyâ€™ll interrupt conversations, invade other peopleâ€™s space, ask irrelevant questions in class, make tactless observations, and ask overly personal questions.
Instructions like â€œBe patientâ€ and â€œJust wait a little whileâ€ are twice as hard for children with ADD/ADHD to follow as they are for other youngsters.
Children with impulsive signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD also tend to be moody and to overreact emotionally. As a result, others may start to view the child as disrespectful, weird, or needy.Symptoms of impulsivity in children:
Just because a child has symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity does not mean that he or she has ADD or ADHD. Certain medical conditions, psychological disorders, and stressful life events can cause symptoms that look like ADD / ADHD.
Before an accurate diagnosis of ADD / ADHD can be made, it is important that you see a mental health professional to explore and rule out the following possibilities:
Think your child has attention deficit disorder? Sometimes, kids who are having trouble in school are incorrectly diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, when what they really have is a learning disability. Furthermore, many kids struggle with both ADD/ADHD and a learning disability.Positive effects of ADD / ADHD in children
In addition to the challenges, there are also positive traits associated with people who have attention deficit disorder:
Keep in mind, too, that ADD/ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. Many children with ADD/ADHD are intellectually or artistically gifted.Helping a child with ADD / ADHD
Whether or not your childâ€™s symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are due to ADD/ADHD, they can cause many problems if left untreated. Children who canâ€™t focus and control themselves may struggle in school, get into frequent trouble, and find it hard to get along with others or make friends. These frustrations and difficulties can lead to low self-esteem as well as friction and stress for the whole family.
But treatment can make a dramatic difference in your childâ€™s symptoms. With the right support, your child can get on track for success in all areas of life.Donâ€™t wait to get help for your child
If your child struggles with symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD, donâ€™t wait to seek professional help. You can treat your childâ€™s symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity without having a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder.
Options to start with include getting your child into therapy, implementing a better diet and exercise plan, and modifying the home environment to minimize distractions.
If you do receive a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, you can then work with your childâ€™s doctor, therapist, and school to make a personalized treatment plan that meets his or her specific needs. Effective treatment for childhood ADD/ADHD involves behavioral therapy, parent education and training, social support, and assistance at school. Medication may also be used, however, it should never be the sole attention deficit disorder treatment.Parenting tips for children with ADD / ADHD
If your child is hyperactive, inattentive, or impulsive, it may take a lot of energy to get him or her to listen, finish a task, or sit still. The constant monitoring can be frustrating and exhausting. Sometimes you may feel like your child is running the show. But there are steps you can take to regain control of the situation, while simultaneously helping your child make the most of his or her abilities.
While attention deficit disorder is not caused by bad parenting, there are effective parenting strategies that can go a long way to correct problem behaviors.
Children with ADD/ADHD need structure, consistency, clear communication, and rewards and consequences for their behavior. They also need lots of love, support, and encouragement.
There are many things parents can do to reduce the signs and symptoms of ADD/ADHD without sacrificing the natural energy, playfulness, and sense of wonder unique in every child.School tips for children with ADD / ADHD
ADD/ADHD, obviously, gets in the way of learning. You canâ€™t absorb information or get your work done if youâ€™re running around the classroom or zoning out on what youâ€™re supposed to be reading or listening to.
Think of what the school setting requires children to do: Sit still. Listen quietly. Pay attention. Follow instructions. Concentrate. These are the very things kids with ADD/ADHD have a hard time doingâ€"not because they arenâ€™t willing, but because their brains wonâ€™t let them.
But that doesnâ€™t mean kids with ADD/ADHD canâ€™t succeed at school. There are many things both parents and teachers can do to help children with ADD/ADHD thrive in the classroom. It starts with evaluating each childâ€™s individual weaknesses and strengths, then coming up with creative strategies for helping the child focus, stay on task, and learn to his or her full capability.
Doctors, specialists, testingâ€"it may all feel a little overwhelming to figure out a diagnosis for your child. You can take a lot of the chaos out of the process with the following practical steps.
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