Children as young as four could potentially be diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, the National Resource Center on ADHD reports. As a parent, you may wonder whether a short attention span and a difficulty following directions are actually a problem. There are a few ways to find out.
Telling Whether a Child has ADHD
According to the 2011 National Survey of Children’s Health in the US, 194,000 children at a preschool age have ADHD. In some instances, the symptoms become less severe or they disappear completely as children grow. In other occasions, ADHD perseveres.
Children that have ADHD are typically known for their disruptive behavior. Things can get so bad that they may eventually be suspended from kindergarten or school.
A few of the most typical symptoms of ADHD include a highly self-focused behavior accompanied by an inability to understand the needs of others, an inability to sit still, exaggerated emotional responses, inability to stick to one task and have it completed before moving on to something else, a difficulty focusing, daydreaming and a difficulty following instructions that will usually result in multiple mistakes.
Is it Normal Behavior or ADHD?
Very often, a parent will find it incredibly difficult to differentiate between a child who’s quite energetic and a child that may potentially have ADHD.
If a child exhibits just one or two of the symptoms mentioned in the previous part of the guide and if these symptoms occur only in specific situations, chances are that the condition is not ADHD. Attention deficit disorders tend to manifest themselves across all kinds of situations and the symptoms are much more widespread.
Understanding the situation may also be difficult due to the fact that not all children suffering from ADHD are hyperactive. They may be inattentive but inability to sit still or aggression don’t necessarily have to be present.
The ADHD Diagnostic Process
Unfortunately, there isn’t one definitive test for ADHD. The diagnostic process will involve multiple steps that enable a doctor to gather more information about the child and their behavior. A doctor will typically diagnose ADHD after a child has exhibited six or more specific symptoms of either hyperactivity or inattention that have remained consistent for a period of at least six months.
Clinical social workers, pediatricians and child psychiatrists all have the training needed to do a thorough and accurate ADHD assessment. If you notice troubling behavior that remains consistent for a certain period of time, you may want to schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional.
Keep in mind that other problems could potentially come with symptoms similar to the ones of ADHD. Sleep, vision and hearing problems could contribute to inattention or hyperactivity, which is why a pediatrician will first have to rule such problems out.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recommends a thorough health assessment and a lengthy interview carried out by a professional whenever ADHD is suspected. An interview with the parent will also be required to determine the onset of the symptoms and their severity.
Once the evaluation has been completed, an ADHD specialist will come up with a conclusion and recommend a behavioral treatment if ADHD is diagnosed. If behavioral therapy fails delivering the desired results, medications could eventually be recommended.