ADHD in Children: When a Teacher Recognizes ADHD Symptoms
As parents, it's sometimes hard to accept that your children are not perfect. So when a call or note comes from your child's teacher, suggesting your child may have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may feel shock and disbelief.
But more and more parents are getting that call. By most estimates, the number of kids with ADHD ranges from 8% to almost 10% of American children. It is a serious childhood disorder and one of the leading reasons a child takes medication. In addition, many experts believe that ADHD is on the rise.
Most children who are diagnosed with ADHD still have it as teens. Symptoms of ADHD in teens are similar to those of ADHD in children. They include:
During teen years, especially as the hormonal changes of adolescence are going on, symptoms of ADHD may intensify.
While ADHD is considered a single condition, there are three subtypes:
Hyperactivity-Impulsivity ADHD. Children with this subtype of ADHD are extremely active and fidgety. They may seem driven by a motor -- constantly moving, unable to sit still. At school, they may interrupt others, blurt out answers without raising their hands, get up from their seats during class, or push and shove classmates in the lunch line.
Inattention ADHD. Kids with this subtype of the disorder have difficulty sustaining attention. They struggle with following directions and following through on them. They are not able to pay close attention to details. They make careless errors and tend to be disorganized. They daydream in class and miss homework assignments simply because they forget to take their books home, forget to do the work, or forget to turn it in.
Combined ADHD. For children with the combined subtype, ADHD is characterized by symptoms of both the hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention subtype.
Diagnosing ADHD in Children: The Teacher's Role
Teachers are often the first ones to recognize or suspect ADHD in children. That's because ADHD symptoms can affect school performance -- and in some cases, disrupt the rest of the class -- and because teachers are with children day in and day out. Since teachers work with many different children, they also come to know how students typically behave in classroom situations requiring concentration and self-control. Therefore, when they notice something outside the norm, they may speak with the school psychologist or contact the parents about their concerns.
If your child's teacher has observed symptoms of ADHD and you decide to pursue an evaluation based on his or her concerns, the teacher could be your greatest ally -- directing you through the appropriate school channels or, in some cases, making a recommendation of a health care professional with expertise in diagnosing ADHD in your community.
Because an ADHD diagnosis is based on observations of a child's behavior, the teacher -- and often past teachers -- will play a key role in the diagnostic process. The professional who makes the diagnosis -- usually a specially trained physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or social worker -- will ask your child's teachers to rate their observations of your child's behavior on standardized evaluation scales to compare it to that of other children the same age and gender.