The growth process of your child can bring many unexpected moments but to a parent concerned about ADHD one long tantrum or distracted moment can spark the worry that keeps you up at night. An ADHD diagnosis can’t be narrowed down to one symptom or episode, and when deciding if your child is affected by the disorder, it can be easy to misread normal growing pains for a more serious issue. Every time your child needs to run off extra energy or has trouble following your instructions shouldn’t be grounds for diagnosis. When your child does something you’re concerned could be ADHD asking these simple questions can help you distinguish between normal behavior and ADHD symptoms:
Has your child been exhibiting this behavior persistently for longer than six months?
Is this behavior excessive when compared to children in the same age bracket?
Is this behavior occurring with the same intensity at home, school AND at play with friends?
Is this behavior negatively affecting academic performance or social interaction?
Persistence is key when evaluating your child’s symptoms. Many parents misidentify behavior as ADHD and miss the opportunity to address other issues that may be affecting the child. On the other hand, ADHD behavior often goes ignored and undiagnosed because parents think the symptoms are normal “kids being kids” behavior. The most important thing to remember is that you know your child better than anyone else so it’s up to you to stay informed and fill your role as the first responder to any sign of an issue that may warrant professional evaluation. It may be a good idea to keep notes on your child’s daily behavior at home, school AND play so you can recognize patterns in behavior and have a more comprehensive conversation with a behavioral specialist when discussing your child’s condition.
The most important thing to remember is that you know your child better than anyone else so it’s up to you to stay informed and fill your role as the first responder to any sign of an issue that may warrant professional evaluation.
There are a few symptoms you should consider if you have reason to believe your child has ADHD:
Difficulty Focusing: This symptom can be tricky because children normally have short attention spans. Pay attention to how long the child can focus on activities they enjoy and activities they would like to avoid, equally. If your child has a strong interest in a certain toy or hobby but still struggles with keeping their focus, this could be a symptom of ADHD. Just be careful when evaluating activities your child may not enjoy like chores or homework assignments because it’s normal to switch your brain off when working through undesired tasks.
Impulsive Behavior: When evaluating this symptom adhere to question two above with no deviations. Impulsive behavior can spike when children are over stimulated or burning off excess energy. Something as simple as a trip to the grocery store can result in a sensory overload for their developing brains so if you observe impulsive behavior in some situations and not others this may not be cause for alarm. You need to confirm that the impulsive behavior is affecting home, school AND play before you consider it a sign of ADHD.
Difficulty Containing and Expressing Emotions: Children with ADHD struggle with emotional expression so if you find your child is having amplified emotional reactions to normal situations you should document the occurrences. Enlist your child’s teacher to help monitor their reactions to simple daily occurrences and compare notes to see if certain situations are setting your child off or if there is an overall lack of control over emotional outbursts.
Fidgeting and Restlessness: Children need to move and play constantly, and it can seem like they have an endless supply of energy. “Ants in the pants” syndrome is something every grade school teacher will tell you is completely normal but if you find your child’s restlessness is compulsive, it may be an ADHD symptom. Question one from above will be an asset to you when evaluating this behavior. Does your child tire out after a long day of playing or does she still need to fidget when she should be cooling down? Make sure to document any repetitive or unconsciously repetitive movements when evaluating this symptom. Remember, even adults need to stand and stretch after sitting for long periods and get restless cabin fever on rainy days. You want to always focus on persistent, habitual behavior.
Concerns about ADHD in your child can be frightening but learning to discern between symptoms and normal activity can offer you a piece of mind. If you think your child could be dealing with some behavioral difficulties, you are not alone, If you’d like to learn more, register for our free educational seminar, or give us a call at 561-296-1715