If your child had ADHD, would you recognize it? Today, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—formerly known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)—is one of the most common mental health issues around the world. While the treatment options have grown tremendously over the last few decades, an accurate diagnosis must precede a successful management plan. As one of the people who spends the most time with your child(ren), you should be aware of the signs to help with early recognition.
When you think of ADHD, what do you picture? A child bouncing from activity to activity because he/she can’t sit still? While that’s one example of inattentiveness, this mental health issue can take many forms. Sometimes, the individual suffering from this disorder becomes too focused on one specific task to the point where he/she can’t shift attention elsewhere, even when directed to (as in a classroom). Additionally, if the subject under discussion doesn’t directly appeal to them, they tend to lose interest faster—often leading to daydreaming and distraction.
Because of this characteristic, those with ADHD may struggle with follow through, jumping from task to task without completing any. They also can exhibit poor organizational skills, a lack of motivation, and/or unresponsiveness when spoken to. Obviously, it’s not an uncommon trait for children to misplace items or daydream, but when it becomes more frequent or starts to interfere with their schoolwork, it may be time to investigate a little further.
As one of the most obvious signs of ADHD, constant movement and activity can be a good indication of this disorder. Some children tend to be more active than others naturally, but when they literally can’t sit still, that could be a symptom of this disorder. Being confined to small spaces or having restricted movement can be difficult for them, so they may fidget or squirm when forced into social situations that require such behavior. Try to keep this in mind if you notice excessive and/or inappropriate running, jumping, or talking. A short temper can also be an example of hyperactivity, yet one that must be handled differently as a symptom of ADHD.
Common admonishments like “be patient” or “wait a minute” seem to fall on deaf ears when dealing with an ADHD child (or adult, for that matter). They tend to have poor impulse control, which causes them to take actions before they’ve fully considered the consequences. This can manifest itself in rapid-fire questions (which may or may not be inappropriate), interruptions, and a failure to honor others’ personal space. So, keep in mind, chiming in with an ill-conceived interjection isn’t necessarily a desire to rude or disrespectful, it may just be an issue with self-control as associated with ADHD.
Previously we mentioned that having an overly active temper can be a sign of the disorder, but in reality an inability to control any emotion could be an indication. Exhibiting emotional overreactions and/or being moody frequently are some additional side effects of the impulsivity. Not only do individuals with ADHD often act without thinking, but also they can feel just as quickly. Often lacking the time needed to get their emotions under control, turning small deviations in schedules to result in a mini (or full-fledged) meltdown. Rather than dismissing this behavior as moody or needy, you can help them process their emotions with a little extra time, as an accommodation.
Ultimately, if you suspect your child has ADHD, the best thing you can do is consult a licensed professional. At The Family Center, we specialize in the treatment of this mental health issue, so we can help with everything from the diagnosis to creating a plan that suits individual needs. Just because someone demonstrates one, or even all, of these symptoms doesn’t mean he/she definitively has this disorder. It could be a natural reaction to any number situations or other problems. Call us today for additional information.