Inside: An informative piece written by an anonymous psychologist on why an ADHD diagnosis in kids should be difficult to make. Also listed are the signs and symptoms of ADHD in kids to watch out for.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder characterized by increased levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviors.
Typically, when thinking of ADHD, we picture individuals having difficulty focusing or sitting still for extended periods.
If you are a parent, these traits may sound quite familiar.
Am I right?
Which might leave you wondering, “does my child have ADHD?”
Well most likely not and here is why an ADHD diagnosis should be difficult to make.
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Table of Contents
3 reasons an ADHD diagnosis in kids should be difficult to diagnose
When it comes to age, ADHD diagnosis guidelines are specifically focused on ages 4 to 18 years.
This is due to the inability to test children younger than the age of 4 since they change rapidly.
However, it is important to note that children of any age are changing rapidly. This is precisely why it is crucial to examine a child in many aspects before making a diagnosis of ADHD.
Many of the symptoms associated with ADHD are also highly linked to kids simply being kids.
The following are signs congruent with an ADHD diagnosis:
- A hard time paying attention
- Does not seem to listen
- Frequently does not follow the rules
- Is disorganized
- Is easily distracted from work or play
- Is in constant motion
- Squirms and fidgets
- Talks too much
- Cannot play quietly
- Acts and speaks without thinking
- Has trouble taking turns
- Interrupts others
Odds are, if you are a parent to a child 10 years old or younger, you experience these symptoms from your child daily.
Because they are children.
First, having an understanding that your child will act in these ways due to their age is important.
Then, if things still seem out of sorts with your child, action by a provider could be taken.
Taking a look at other aspects of your child’s life can also make an impact on a diagnosis. These can include the location of the behaviors and any underlying issues that could be provoking these behaviors.
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Next, consider the location in which you are finding the majority of these symptoms.
To have a diagnosis of ADHD, it is common that symptoms must be displayed in 2 or more settings.
Many parents become frustrated with certain behaviors at home and question whether their child could have ADHD.
However, these same children may display completely different behaviors in a school setting or at a friend’s house.
It is not uncommon for children to act out at home but be on their best behavior elsewhere.
Children feel the most comfortable at home.
This is where they can express themselves in ways they can’t in other settings.
However, a child with ADHD may consistently display hyperactive and impulsive behaviors in numerous settings.
This is why examining the location of the behavior is important. If it is only in one location, further evaluation into why the child is acting this way may be necessary.
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Nature of the problem
ADHD is a very common diagnosis. This is especially true when a child is exhibiting so many of the signs illustrated above.
However, there can be a different cause of these behaviors when observed more closely.
Symptoms that are often linked to ADHD can also be shown in children with problems such as:
- Having a sleep disorder
- Major anxiety or depression
- History of abuse or neglect
- Possible seizure disorder
- Intellectual disability
- Learning disability
Often, children don’t know just quite how to express themselves appropriately.
If there is an underlying reason for this behavior, it can be difficult to figure out. Since the behaviors are so closely tied with ADHD, it can be an easy answer for both parents and provider.
Though, if there is a different cause for these behaviors, a diagnosis of ADHD won’t be helpful for the child nor will the behaviors subside.
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How can parents help?
As a parent, the most important thing that you can do for your child at this time is to be observant. Make note of behaviors similar to those above and how it affects your child in different settings. These settings can include home, school, or other social settings like a friend’s home.
Keeping a record of certain aspects related to these behaviors is crucial since your child’s pediatrician will need this information for a diagnosis.
Things you will want to document include the symptoms shown, how long the symptoms have occurred, and how it affects your child and those around your child such as friends and family.
Finally, parents of children with suspected ADHD need to ensure the safety of their child. Children with ADHD may not recognize danger which leaves them susceptible to injury.
You will want to provide safety concerning traffic, swimming pools, tools, chemicals/cleaning supplies, and firearms.
Observation is key for children suspected of having an ADHD diagnosis. Whether it be their behaviors or ways that you can improve their environment to keep them safe!
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How can teachers help?
Teacher documentation is one of the most important aspects of diagnosing a child with ADHD. If your child is of school age, he or she will spend the majority of their time in a school setting for a good portion of the year.
Therefore, the behavior displayed here will tell a pediatrician a lot when diagnosing the child.
A teacher will have information readily available that a parent may not.
Information teachers can provide in aiding a diagnosis include:
- The child’s behavior in the classroom setting
- If or how symptoms are affecting the child’s progress
- The child’s learning patterns or abilities
ADHD should be harder to diagnose in children
Children are consistently changing from the time that they enter this world to the time they turn into adults. For some time in childhood, it can be difficult to deal with emotions and how to express them appropriately.
Sometimes children are simply being children when engaging in behaviors that can be annoying or frustrating to adults.
Making sure to examine your child to ensure a proper diagnosis or lack of one is crucial for their well-being.
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Tina Williamson is the writer and founder of Mindfulmazing, a peaceful parenting blog that guides busy moms and dads to tune into what matters most, and, ultimately, create a happy life! Tina shares strategies and advice for raising responsible, mindful, and resilient kids.
In 2019, Tina created the popular eBook, “Mighty Mindful Kids,” a mindfulness activity book that helps kids with focus, emotional regulation, awareness, and connection. This helped so many families (including her own) that she created several printable resources for parents, teachers, and therapists.
Stay tuned for Tina’s Amazing Me Growth Mindset Journal for Kids being published in the spring of 2021.