Has your child’s energy level or disorganization caused you to wonder if she might have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? The disorder, affecting as many as 1 in 10 school-age children, may be under-diagnosed, especially in girls. Learn the signs of ADHD and 4 key indicators parents need to consider.
The hallmark symptoms of ADHD include:
- Inattention: forgetful, distractible, disorganized, poor attention for difficult tasks.
- Impulsivity: trouble with turn taking, blurting out answers, or frequent interrupting.
- Hyperactivity: fidgeting, talking excessively, restless, constantly on the go.
4 key indicators
Of course, every child exhibits some of these symptoms at times, but these 4 criteria help you drill down deeper in diagnosing ADHD:
- The behaviors are inappropriate for your child’s age.
- The behaviors have been present for 6 months or more.
- The behaviors are seen in two or more settings (such as home and school).
- The behaviors interfere with academics or peer/family relationships or activities on a daily basis.
Recent statistics indicate that ADHD is more likely to be diagnosed in boys, in part because boys more often exhibit hyperactivity and impulsivity, and are often identified due to disruptive behavior. Inattention is the primary symptom in girls. Many experts believe girls (and women) are under-diagnosed, especially if they’re not failing academically.
Other disorders can mimic ADHD
Mood disorders, learning disorders, and autism that can mimic or overlap with ADHD symptoms. In order to accurately diagnose ADHD, you and your doctor will need to gather information in multiple areas to get a complete picture of your child’s symptoms and functioning.
A note of caution on medications
Be wary of a healthcare provider who hands out a prescription for medication without a thorough investigation into your concerns. While parents are often desperate for aid and answers by the time they seek advice, medication therapy requires close monitoring and is really only one part of the treatment plan. Other important components can include counseling, school modifications, and social skills training.
As always, if you have concerns about your child’s school performance or behavior, seek the advice of your trusted healthcare professional.