Recognizing Signs of ADHD in Kids

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects millions of children globally, and sometimes continues into adulthood. If parents and teachers can recognize the signs of ADHD in kids, they can help children take the first steps to manage their ADHD symptoms. 

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a chronic condition that can be noticeable in kids as early as three years of age, according to Mayo Clinic. Kids dealing with ADHD may display one or more of the following warning signs: inability to pay close attention to details, difficulty focusing on tasks, not appearing to listen even when addressed directly, becoming easily distracted, forgetting to do chores or complete other everyday tasks, and avoiding homework or other tasks that require mental effort. In some instances, kids may also display any of the following ADHD warning signs: difficulty staying seated and/or waiting their turn, talking too much, fidgeting or tapping their hands or feet, having trouble playing or doing an activity quietly, and running around and/or climbing in situations where it is inappropriate to do so. 

The warning signs of ADHD in children sometimes appear as early as preschool. Preschoolers typically have a short attention span and are unlikely to stick with one activity for more than a few minutes at a time. However, this could also be an early warning sign of ADHD. Comparatively, older kids and teenagers have an attention span that varies based on their level of interest, and their attention span may impact the signs of ADHD that they display at a given time. 

Meanwhile, young kids are full of energy and tend to have a high activity level. This does not necessarily mean that these kids have ADHD. They need to be diagnosed properly to determine if they are dealing with ADHD. 

How Is ADHD Diagnosed in Kids?

For parents who believe their child may be dealing with ADHD, meeting with a pediatrician or doctor is important. Kids under the age of 12 generally experience problems at home and at school if they are dealing with ADHD symptoms, and a pediatrician or doctor consultation allows a parent to work with a medical professional to find ways to help his or her child manage these symptoms. 

Although there is no surefire test to determine if a child is dealing with ADHD, a medical exam can be used to rule out different causes of a child’s ADHD symptoms. It is also important to rule out other causes of inattention and lack of focus, which includes other mental health diagnoses such as depression and anxiety disorders. A trained and licensed clinician may review a child’s personal and family medical histories as well as school records to help with the diagnosis. In addition, a child’s family, friends, and teachers may be asked to complete a questionnaire to help determine if he or she is dealing with ADHD or another disorder. 

What Treatment Options Are Available to Kids Dealing with ADHD?

If an ADHD diagnosis is given to a child, several treatment options are available to help him or her manage ADHD symptoms. 

Stimulant drugs are among the most commonly used treatments for ADHD in children. They help boost and balance neurotransmitters in the brain, reducing the ADHD symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. Stimulants are prescribed by a doctor and must be used as directed, as stimulant abuse can cause high blood pressure and/or body temperature, hallucinations, seizures and/or tremors, as well as other short- and long-term health problems. 

Different types of therapy may be used on their own or in conjunction with medication for ADHD, too. Common therapy options used to help children coping with ADHD include behavior therapy, social skills training, and psychotherapy. Parenting skills training and family therapy may also be considered. 

Regardless of how a child with ADHD is treated, ongoing assessments are necessary. A child should meet with a doctor regularly until his or her ADHD symptoms start to improve, then every three to six months thereafter. In some cases, symptoms improve and can even resolve, but this is not always the case. Observant and dedicated parents and teachers can provide invaluable information to treating clinicians to help ensure that the child gets the medical support they need to manage their ADHD. This information will also help determine when or if treatment should be changed or stopped.

At Achieve Medical Center, our expert medical clinicians provide a broad array of ADHD treatment options for children. We help kids use proven strategies and techniques to cope with ADHD, and each treatment is tailored to a child’s ADHD symptoms. To learn more about recognizing ADHD in kids and our ADHD treatment options for kids, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us online or call us today at (858) 427-5060.