ADHD in Children
Children with ADHD show signs of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity in specific ways. These children:
- Are in constant motion
- Squirm and fidget
- Do not seem to listen
- Have trouble playing quietly
- Often talk excessively
- Interrupt or intrude on others
- Are easily distracted
- Do not finish tasks
How Is ADHD Diagnosed?
Though your child may have some symptoms that seem like ADHD, it might be something else. That's why you need a doctor to check it out.
There is no specific or definitive test for ADHD. Instead, diagnosing is a process that takes several steps and involves gathering a lot of information from multiple sources. You, your child, your child's school, and other caregivers should be involved in assessing your child's behavior. A doctor will also ask what symptoms your child has, how long ago those symptoms started, and how the behavior affects your child and the rest of your family. Doctors diagnose ADHD in children after a child has shown six or more specific symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity on a regular basis for more than 6 months in at least two settings. The doctor will consider how a child's behavior compares with that of other children the same age.
A doctor will give your child a physical exam, take a medical history, and may even give him a noninvasive brain scan.
Your child's primary care doctor can determine whether your child has ADHD using standard guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which says the condition may be diagnosed in children ages 4 to 18. Symptoms, though, must begin by age 12.
It is very difficult to diagnose ADHD in children younger than 5. That's because many
have some of the symptoms seen in ADHD in various situations. Also, children change very rapidly during the preschool years.
In some cases, behavior that looks like ADHD might be caused instead by:
3 Types of ADHD in Children
Doctors may classify symptoms as the following types of ADHD:
Combined type (inattentive/hyperactive/impulsive). Children with this type of ADHD show all three symptoms. This is the most common form of ADHD.
Hyperactive/impulsive type. Children show both hyperactive and impulsive behavior, but for the most part, they are able to pay attention.
Inattentive type. Formerly called attention deficit disorder (ADD). These children are not overly active. They do not disrupt the classroom or other activities, so their symptoms might not be noticed.