Kids experience many changes as they grow, and figuring out what falls outside “normal” can be challenging. That is especially true of behavioral issues — is my child full of energy or is this exuberance crossing over into attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
There are six million kids in the United States with ADHD, representing nearly 10% of children between the ages of 3 and 17. While ADHD can manifest itself in many ways, some general rules can help guide you if you’re worried about your child.
One reason ADHD is so complex is that it encompasses a wide range of behavioral issues, yet inattention tends to be a common thread.
The attention-deficit portion goes beyond the notoriously small attention spans in children and includes:
Again, this symptom can be difficult to identify in children, as kids are exploring their worlds and distraction is common. If you notice your child is struggling more than their siblings or peers, it’s worth keeping an eye on their inattention.
The second part of ADHD includes hyperactivity, which can manifest itself in several ways, including:
The most common type of ADHD is one that combines inattention with hyperactivity.
Though often grouped with hyperactivity, impulsivity is a bit different. Impulsive behaviors do not involve any forethought, and they can be risky or reckless. You may notice that your child jumps into something without consideration or risk assessment.
Kids are often disorganized by nature, but children with ADHD truly struggle with organization. For example, prioritizing and organizing tasks are difficult. And if there’s more than one step, kids with ADHD struggle to figure out the order of those steps and simply give up (or don’t even start). Losing items needed for the task is common, which adds to the disorganization.
When kids with ADHD are confronted with organizing a space or their thoughts, they’re more vulnerable to distraction.
The result is that your child may lack follow-through, and their spaces are often messy and chaotic.
We mentioned that hyperactivity can present itself in a child’s emotions, and we want to expand on this. Kids with ADHD often struggle to control their emotions, leading to extremes — happy one moment and lashing out the next.
Children with ADHD are prone to mood swings, and they may exhibit more anger and frustration as they struggle to rein in their thoughts and emotions.
As you can imagine, children can and do exhibit all of the signs of ADHD we’ve described above. However, to qualify as ADHD, we typically look for a combination of behaviors and dysregulation.
The best way to discover whether your child has ADHD is to seek professional help. For expert diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children, we invite you to contact our San Diego, California, office at 858-923-5226 or book an appointment online today.