As part of the process of diagnosing ADHD, your child's doctor will look for other conditions that have similar symptoms. Many children who have ADHD also have at least one other condition at the same time.
Common conditions that coexist with ADHD include:
- Learning Disabilities. In about 20% to 30% of children with ADHD, there is a specific learning disability that makes it hard for a child to master skills, such as math or reading. For example, dyslexia, a type of reading disorder, is often seen in children with ADHD. Diagnosing learning disabilities requires specific academic testing (which is done by a psychologist).
- Tourette Syndrome. Very few children have this syndrome, but many people with Tourette syndrome also have ADHD. Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition that causes various nervous tics and repetitive mannerisms. Some people with Tourette syndrome may blink often, clear their throats frequently, snort, sniff, or bark out words. Sometimes, these tics can be ade worse by ADHD medication.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder. As many as 30% to 50% of all children with ADHD have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). These children are often disobedient and have outbursts of temper. ODD is more common in boys than girls.
- Conduct Disorder. Approximately 30% to 50% of children with ADHD and ODD may eventually develop conduct disorder (CD), a more serious pattern of antisocial behavior. These children frequently lie or steal and tend to disregard the welfare of others. They risk getting into trouble at school or with the police.
- Anxiety and Depression. Some children with ADHD may have anxiety or depression (about 20% to 25%). If the anxiety or depression is recognized and treated, these children will be better able to handle the problems that accompany ADHD.
- Mania/Bipolar Disorder. A few children with ADHD will go on to develop mania. Bipolar disorder is marked by mood swings between periods of intense emotional highs and lows. The bipolar child may have elated moods and grandiosity (feelings of importance) alternating with periods of depression or chronic irritability.