Recognizing ADHD in your child or teenager

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder affecting school-aged children...

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder affecting school-aged children and adolescents. In fact, the CDC published the results of a report in 2010 indicating that nearly 1 in 10 school-aged children had an ADHD diagnosis. But as any Atlanta parent knows, your child is much more than a statistic, which is why it's important to understand the criteria for a proper diagnosis.

General signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Children are often excited and have difficulty staying focused for a long time, but ADHD differentiates itself from typical childhood behavior with hyperactivity, inattentiveness or uncontrollable impulsiveness.

Every child is different and may not display all of the following symptoms. Some common signs of this childhood and adolescent behavior disorder include, but are not limited to

  • Poor grades as a result of intentionally not following or unintentionally forgetting instructions
  • Difficulty completing chores at home or tasks at school
  • Inattentiveness when spoken to
  • Frequent misplacing of toys, books or homework; forgetting to bring necessary items to school on a regular basis
  • Hyperactivity, such as the inability to sit still when instructed or excessive talking
  • Inability to control impulses, like interrupting people or being unable to wait his or her turn in a game

Properly diagnosing a child for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

The previously mentioned signs are some common indicators of a hyperactive or attention-deficit child, but not a diagnosis that your child has ADHD or requires medication. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a series of guidelines that a professional pediatrician, doctor or psychiatrist uses to diagnose an individual.

For example, the child must have symptoms displayed in two or more settings. Acting out at school but behaving differently at home may not be a sign of this specific behavior disorder, but perhaps an underlying issue. The symptoms must not be better defined by a mental disorder like bipolar disorder. The child must have at least six attention symptoms and six hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms, as listed in your doctor's DSM (American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) present before age seven.

Has your child's disruptive behavior become a problem? Recognizing and treating ADHD is best when done early on. Consult your Atlanta-area healthcare provider to diagnose your child properly and determine a course of treatment appropriate for their age and behavior.

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