Imagine for a minute that you are a child that has ADHD. Your mind is always in overdrive, and you are constantly bouncing around from one thing to another. It’s like a movie with a million channels and you cannot pick which one to watch. You struggle with focus and concentration, so of course, it’s hard to maintain attention and stay on task.
Throughout the day, you are easily distracted by anything and everything. It can be a sound, a movement or even something as small as a leaf floating outside the window. Your brain goes in different directions and most often, you forget what you were supposed to be doing in the first place.
So many things feel overwhelming, no matter how big or small. Your emotions are a rollercoaster ride up and down throughout the day. These feelings are intense and difficult to control. Your frequent impulsiveness gets you into trouble. You tend to blurt out something that you shouldn’t say. You also tend to take unnecessary risks.
This is the life of many children who are diagnosed (and sometimes undiagnosed) with ADHD. As of 2016, 6.1 million children aged 2-17 years living in the U.S. had been diagnosed with ADHD, which is like previous estimates.
Children and ADHD
First of all, it’s important to understand that ADHD isn’t something that a child can control. It’s not a behavior problem, and it’s not something that a child is doing on purpose. Instead, it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way a child’s brain works.
Some of the most prestigious scientific-based organizations in the world
conclude that ADHD is a real disorder with potentially devastating consequences,
when not properly identified, diagnosed and treated.
There is no clear-cut evidence about what causes the brain differences of ADHD. There is some research that indicates that ADHD is mostly inherited. Children may also be at risk for ADHD if they were born early, are exposed to environmental toxins, or their mothers used drugs during pregnancy.
The Symptoms of ADHD
One of the main symptoms of ADHD is difficulty paying attention. For a child with ADHD, it can be a challenge to stay focused on one thing for very long. They might get easily distracted or have trouble sitting still and paying attention during class or other activities.
Another symptom of ADHD is hyperactivity. This means that a child with ADHD might have a lot of energy and have trouble winding down. They might fidget a lot, talk excessively, or have trouble waiting their turn.
Finally, impulsivity is another common symptom of ADHD. This means that a child might do things without really thinking about the consequences. They might act before they think, interrupt others, or have trouble controlling their emotions.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) has identified these 11 symptoms of ADHD:
- Inattention: difficulty sustaining attention on tasks or activities, makes careless mistakes, forgetfulness, etc.
- Hyperactivity: feeling restless, excessive talking, fidgeting, etc.
- Impulsivity: impulsive actions or decisions, interrupting others, impatience
- Difficulty in organizing or prioritizing tasks
- Difficulty in completing tasks or projects
- Easily distracted or forgetful
- Disorganization and forgetfulness
- Difficulty in staying focused on instructions
- Adverse behavioral problems
- Difficulty sitting still
- Chronic tardiness
All of these symptoms can make life really difficult for a child with ADHD. They might struggle in school because they can’t pay attention or sit still, and they might have trouble making friends because of their hyperactivity or impulsivity.
However, it’s important to remember that ADHD is something that can be managed with the right help and support. Medication and therapy can be really helpful in managing symptoms and helping a child succeed in school and in life.
DSM-5 distinguishes between different presentations of ADHD as:
- predominantly inattentive (6 or more out of 11 symptoms present)
- predominantly hyperactive/impulsive (6 or more out of 9 symptoms present), and combined presentation (both criteria fulfilled), as well as a partial remission category
- Symptoms have to be present in two or more settings before the age of 12 years for at least 6 months and have to reduce or impair social, academic, or occupational functioning
- In adolescents over 17 years and in adults, five symptoms per dimension need to be present for diagnosis.
- In adults, the use of validated instruments like the Wender Utah rating scale is recommended.
If you know a child with ADHD, be patient and understanding.
Remember that they’re not acting out on purpose. They need your support and love to succeed. And if you suspect that your child might have ADHD, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about it. Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference in their lives.
At Rockwood Prep Academy, we specialize in helping children succeed with ADHD and other learning disabilities. To learn more, or to schedule a tour of our San Tan Valley Campus, click here.