In the last two years, two of my close friends have had children diagnosed with ADHD. It has dramatically changed the way their families function, but the diagnosis has brought peace and allowed them to better understand how to help their children and implement a treatment plan.
I have noticed that the first question they get asked is "what were the signs"? It is a good question. Here are some general warning signs that your child might have ADHD. In case you have the same question.
ADHD (previously known as ADD) is a behavioral disorder that affects between 5-10% of children. Boys seem to be 3x more likely to be affected.
Here are the most common warning signs.
- Does your child have trouble paying attention? They don't appear to be listening and struggle to follow directions when they are given.
- Does your child forget things easily? Do they leave their coat at school, forget their lunch money, or where they put their book?
- Does your child have a hard time sitting still? Are they always getting out of their chair, running around? Are they constantly running around and climbing on things?
- Does your child lack self control? Do they routinely interrupt other people when they are talking? Invade others space, and ask questions that are too personal? Do they show little regard for how much they talk, talking endlessly? Does your child cut others off when they are talking, jumping in to answer questions before the entire question has been asked?
- Does your child appear emotional? Whether they are happy or sad, are emotions exaggerated? Are their outbursts and temper tantrums that don't seem to have a valid reason?
- Does your child have a hard time waiting their turn? Do they always seem impatient and irritated when they have to wait?
- Does your child get stuck on a certain task? When you ask them to put something down, or move on to something else, is this difficult for them to do? Do they struggle with transitions?
- Does your child leave tasks undone? Is he/she easily distracted, and struggles to finish jobs and responsibilities?
- Does your child act before they think? Do they disregard consequences and act any-way?
- Does your child avoid doing hard things? When a task is difficult do they either avoid it all together, or does it cause them undo stress?
If your child is demonstrating these behaviors, more than you feel is normal, it is good to start talking to your children's teachers and compare notes. Make sure that the behavior is universal. After that, a doctor is your next stop. They can rule out other possibilities such as learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, thyroid problems, sleep disorders, or the effects of a situation such as bullying. A doctor can give your child a complete evaluation and together you can create a plan of treatment.
For a child's behavior to be considered for an ADHD diagnosis...
-Children must exhibit ADHD behaviors before they are 7
-These behaviors must be more severe than in other kids their same age
-The behaviors must occur and have negative effects in at least two areas of the child's life (such as school and home, or school and church.)
-The behaviors must not be linked to stresses at home, such as a death in the family, an illness or divorce.
As parents it can be really hard to know what to do and how to help children with behavior disorders. We have probably heard about medication, diet, exercise, and therapy. But what does that really mean? What can we do in our homes and in our schools?
I recently read a great book on ADHD called Square Peg by Todd Rose. The approach was refreshing and pertinent for me as a mother and teacher.
The book is filled with "Action Items". Helpful tips for helping children with ADHD, learn.
Reminders such as... making sure our children can ask questions without being shut down...
Providing information in different formats so that our chid can learn in a "language they understand" and...Creating an environment that accepts our children, just as they are.
Funny, the suggestions apply no matter who are children are.
If your child exhibits the above signs, consider visiting your doctor. And understand that treatment doesn't just mean a doctor visit, but an environment change in your home and at school also.
Does your child have ADHD?
What were the signs, how did you know?
Do you have any advice for parents who wonder if their child had ADHD?