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ADHD in Children: When a Teacher Recognizes ADHD Symptoms

Has your child's teacher let you know that they think your child has ADHD?

Teachers are often the first ones to recognize or suspect ADHD in children. That's because ADHD symptoms typically affects school performance or disrupts the rest of the class. Also, teachers are with children for most of the day and for months out of the year.

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For more than 30 years, scientists have examined the relationship between food coloring and hyperactive behavior in children, but with mixed results. To date, no conclusive evidence has been found to show that food coloring causes ADHD. Some studies, though, have suggested an association between the two. Most likely, ADHD is caused by the combination of changes in brain structure, environmental factors, and heredity.

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Since teachers work with many different children, they also come to know how students typically behave in classroom situations requiring concentration and self-control. So when they notice something outside the norm, they may speak with the school psychologist or the parents about their concerns.

But teachers can't diagnose ADHD. They can tell you what they've noticed, but after that, you would need to get a professional to evaluate your child to see if they have ADHD or if something else is going on.

There is no one test for ADHD. Instead, the ADHD diagnosis is based on observations of a child's behavior. The teacher, sometimes past teachers, will play a key role in the process. The professional who makes the diagnosis is usually a specially trained doctor (a psychiatrist, pediatrician or psychologist), counselor, or social worker. They will ask you and your child's teachers to rate their observations of your child's behavior on standardized evaluation scales.

ADHD Treatment: Coordinating With the School

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, you'll need to work closely with your child's school.

The school nurse may play a role in dispensing ADHD medications. Your child's teacher will be important in carrying out the behavioral part of a treatment plan.

As a parent, you'll need to keep open the lines of communication with the teacher to ensure a consistent system of incentives and discipline between school and home.

For example, a younger child's teacher may make a checklist and reward the child with a star or smiley face each time he or she completes a certain number of items on the list.

You may have a similar system at home or provide a bigger reward -- such as a special dinner, a family movie night, or an extra hour of TV or computer time -- when your child gets a certain number of stars or smiley faces.

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