Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, is an increasingly common issue faced by children in the US. Recent studies by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention indicate one in nine American schoolchildren struggle with ADHD, whether or not they are diagnosed. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of ADHD is the first step towards helping overcome the disorder, which can make it difficult for children to learn, develop relationships, or finish tasks.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children
ADHD used to be called ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder. The addition of the word Hyperactive highlights one of the most common symptoms associated with the disorder. While ADHD is most commonly identified in children up to the age of seven, hyperactivity may usually be noticed in children under the age of five. If a child is prone to fidget and squirm, and has trouble sitting still, it may indicate a level of hyperactivity.
Hyperactivity as a symptom of ADHD
This symptom may be tough to accurately recognize, as most young children may experience times where they have trouble sitting still and following direction. This is perfectly normal behavior — on occasion. Hyperactivity may be indicated if a child routinely displays such energetic bursts regardless of context. Usually hyperactivity, as well as other signs and symptoms of ADHD, will be consistent whether a child is at school, home, church, on the playground and/or playing sports. If a child can't sit still, or stay out of other peoples' space, regardless of the situation, he or she may be hyperactive.
Impulsive behavior can be a symptom of ADHD
A related ADHD symptom may be regarded as impulsive behavior. Impulsive children will be prone to tantrums and other extreme emotional outbursts including anger, sadness and anxiety. Impulsivity may also manifest as a tendency to interrupt, as though a child lacks the patience to let another person finish speaking. A child will routinely demonstrate a lack the ability to wait for his or her turn while playing a game. In a classroom environment, the child may frequently interrupt the teacher, shout out guesses in response to questions, or create other disruptions that distract the class. Such attention deficit may reflect a total self focus, or an inability to recognize other peoples' roles and needs within a social environment. A child with ADHD will struggle in social situations, as they won't be able to exhibit empathy and social awareness to create bonds with other people.
Difficulty paying attention can be a symptom of ADHD
While these sort of hyperactive behaviors are the ones most commonly associated with ADHD, quiet children may also be exhibiting signs and symptoms that are tougher to recognize. Children with ADHD generally have difficulty paying attention to situations they find boring or complicated. Rather than act outward with loud an egregious behavior, some children respond to this by turning inward, often viewed as daydreaming. They may have an easier time focusing on their own imagination than the world around them.
Ultimately, if a short attention span makes it impossible for a child to complete chores, homework, and other activities, while exhibiting any of the above signs and symptoms, an ADHD assessment may be in order.