ADHD: How To Recognize
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, occurs in 5 percent of children. There is no blood test, urine test, x-ray, or EEG that proves or disproves the diagnosis. The diagnosis rests on adult observation of the child's behavior.
ADHD is present when children have many of the following symptoms of poor attention span:
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties.
- Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
- Reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as homework).
- Loses things necessary for tasks (such as toys, school assignments, and books).
- Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
- Is forgetful in daily activities.
Many children with ADHD, especially boys with ADHD, have the following symptoms of hyperactivity:
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in his seat.
- Leaves his seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
- Runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate.
- Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
- Is "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor."
- Talks excessively.
In addition to these symptoms, other factors are important in making a correct diagnosis of ADHD:
- First: The symptoms have been present for more than 6 months and were noted before age 7. In fact, most children with ADHD have symptoms going back to the toddler years. They are hard-wired for these differences.
- Second: The symptoms have been observed in two or more settings. The child has short attention span and impulsivity with the parents, the grandparents, the sitter, and the day care staff. If it is only present at home, it is not ADHD.
- Third: The symptoms are worse in the school setting and are verified by the child's teacher. The school environment has high expectations for paying attention, sitting still, and following directions. The classroom environment is distracting. Also, the child with ADHD stands out in a classroom of normal children. The child's teacher has a better perspective on the range of normal age-appropriate behavior than most of us.
- Fourth: The intelligence is usually normal.
If you think your child has ADHD, consult your healthcare provider and your child's teacher.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 7/21/2006 5:52:31 AM
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.