ADHD in boys is such a common issue in this day and age.
“He’s off the walls!”
“He won’t sit still.”
“It’s like he can’t listen to me if I say more than 3 words.”
You’ve heard parents say these things about their children. Likely you may have said something similar about your child. However, how do you know when your child is just being a kid and when it might be something more?
The DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- Fifth Edition) classifies ADHD as “a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”. Let’s face it, some kids are fidgety. Maybe it distracts our attention more than it distracts theirs. For some children, the sensory stimulation provided by fidgeting or moving actually helps them to maintain attention. Would this be considered a problem? The definition in the DSM suggests that for ADHD it must be a combination of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. In addition, these symptoms must be interfering with functioning and development. This second part may seem somewhat subjective, however, there are many standardized developmental assessments that can help determine if your child is functioning and developing typically. A team of professionals will then work collaboratively with you and your child to determine the diagnosis that will best serve your child.
There are a few things you can look for to determine if you should head in for an assessment or embrace the energy and activity that is your child:
What is your child like in conversation with other children and with you? Does your child seem to interrupt frequently? Does your child lack the ability to listen even when spoken to directly? Some of these instances are normal. After all, language is a developing skill for your child, and so some interrupting and distraction is totally normal. In fact, even as adults we can mistakenly interrupt someone or lose interest and stop listening when someone is talking too much. We have to remember that some of these behaviors are normal for children and for adults. However, if it becomes a pattern that you and other adults notice about your child, it may be time to get an expert option.
Does your child seem frequently restless or agitated? What is your child’s temperament usually like? In what environments is your child at their best/worst? Often times we don’t think about this aspect of ADHD, however, it’s a critical component. Children that have ADHD can seem unhappy or frustrated in various situations.
A child’s preferred interests can give us a lot of information about a child. If your child naturally is attracted to more physical activities, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have ADHD, many children are just active in nature and sports can be a great outlet for them. However, if you notice that your child only enjoys or is successful in activities that are very active in nature, it may beneficial to examine what hinders their involvement in less active activities such as art or reading.
It’s important to remember that some of these behaviors are common in a typically developing child, however, if nearly all of these aspects seem to identify your child, it may be worth collaborating with your pediatrician and teachers to determine the best solution for your child. Be wary of doctors who prescribe medication without an evaluation such as the Vanderbilt Assessment Scale, which utilizes parents and teachers in the data collection process. It can be frustrating for a child to be on unnecessary medication and also can be frustrating for your child to miss opportunities to learn based on an undiagnosed medical condition. Collaborating with both educational and medical professionals can ensure that your child is being evaluated in multiple environments. After all, just because Johnny comes home from school running laps around the kitchen and dining room doesn’t mean he’s undiagnosed with ADHD, in fact, many children who are attentive during school hours need that physical outlet once they get home. However, if Johnny’s teacher says that he’s also running around the classroom all day, and can’t attend to classroom instruction, this may be helpful information in a future assessment. There are plenty of medications, vitamins, home remedies, and strategies for helping your child with ADHD to be successful. Finding the right combination to help your child be the most successful is best accomplished with a team of people (including you!) who care about your child.
There are a few symptoms of ADD in toddlers that you may not know about. We have the answers.