Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects approximately 11 percent of children ages two to 17. Though it typically is most active during childhood, it can continue into adulthood.
The disorder can make school, work, personal relationships and social interactions more difficult. Children with ADHD may be labeled as having a learning disability or behavioral disorder because the condition is often misunderstood. Though ADHD has no known cure, there are a variety of treatment options available that can help children live with the disorder. These treatment options range from medications to counseling. The first step in understanding ADHD and getting a child help is properly diagnosing the disorder. Because the symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, it's important to seek medical help should any signs of ADHD present in a child. Look out for the following signs of ADHD in order to be able to get a proper diagnosis and make a prompt treatment plan.
Children with ADHD frequently fidget. This symptom can be hard to distinguish from normal childhood energy. In school, children with ADHD may tap their pencil, swing their legs, rock in their chair and squirm when forced to sit still. At home, this fidgeting may present itself with fork tapping at the dinner table, leg kicking in bed or rocking during homework time. This fidgeting can mean that children with ADHD have a hard time calming down and being still during quiet activities, such as during reading time. Studies show that children with ADHD frequently fidget in order to help themselves focus.
Another sign of ADHD is that children with the condition are often self-focused. It is difficult for children with the disorder to recognize that other children and adults have needs and desires much like they do. This symptom may manifest itself in a child with frequent interrupting, difficulty in waiting for his or her turn or expressing frustration when having to share toys. In school, a child may frequently "shout out" the answer because raising his or her hand is too frustrating.
It may seem like a child with ADHD is being lazy or disobedient when he or she doesn't do their chores or homework when prompted, but forgetfulness is a classic sign of ADHD. A child with ADHD may forget what they have been asked to do, especially if that task was part of a list of other responsibilities. Children with ADHD also frequently lose items. A child may lose their jacket, lunch box or backpack and have no explanation as to where the object is.
Children with ADHD are smart and are often interested in many different subject and hobbies. An inability to focus, however, means that they won't often finish a task or a project before moving onto another one. For example, a child may begin making a tower out of blocks but get distracted by another toy partway through the tower and switch to that toy. Children with ADHD have a hard time focusing on what others are saying. Children will often say that they heard another person speaking to them but are unable to repeat what was just said.
Children with ADHD may display extreme emotions as a part of the disorder. Little things, such as a last-minute change in plans or a broken promise, can set a child with ADHD off, resulting in temper tantrums in young children and anger in older children. He or she may become extremely angry at seemingly small problems that may not bother a child without the disorder. This anger can present itself with screaming, yelling, throwing objects and sometimes hurting another child or adult physically.