Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed child psychiatric disorders. It has varying levels of severity and a host of different treatments. The following list of symptoms can be used as a rough guide for parents who might be suspicious that their child may have this condition. There are many symptoms of ADHD, and this list is only a general sample:
Constant Movement. All healthy children are active, but a child with ADHD may fidget constantly and move is if driven by a motor. They jump, squirm, and need to be constantly busy. They often exhaust their parents and may cause trouble at school because of their inability to listen quietly. They often will touch, grab, and feel things, like items in a store, or they may have repetitive behaviors like nail-biting, tapping, or picking.
Distractibility. Most of us have the ability to phase out background noises and distractions as we work. The ADHD child has a faulty filtering mechanism in the brain and may be hyper-sensitive to sounds, including the sound of rain or a distant radio. Thus, he or she has a difficult time concentrating. The child might move from activity to activity, never quite finishing one or the other.
Aimlessness. A child with ADHD is often described as being “unpredictable.” Their behavior may change drastically depending on the time of day or activity. Teachers and parents often don’t know what to expect. These children are overly spontaneous, and may blurt out answers or be socially inappropriate, such as by invading people’s personal space and being too loud.
Recklessness. He or she may be accident-prone, and careless to obvious dangers such as cars on the street.
Lack of Coordination in Large or Small Muscle Groups. Sloppy handwriting and schoolwork is often seen in the ADHD child.
Intrusiveness. These children are often unpopular throughout their early school years. They may invade people’s personal space and bother other children by touching them, intruding on their activities, or by drawing obnoxious attention to themselves.
Is it a real condition?
Some argue that AHDH is an invented condition and doesn’t really exist. However, I have three children with varying degrees of the disorder. (And four who don’t.) I have seen the very troubling symptoms and astonishing improvement with proper medication.
I have one child whose behavior was once so out of control that we were receiving weekly phone calls from the principals office. Pink “inappropriate behavior” slips came home almost daily. This child was hyperactive, combatitive, and distracted. Her schoolwork was often illegible and incoherent. She could not properly focus to learn. However, once we found the correct medication, this same child became happy, agreeable, and hardworking. She began making friends. The change was dramatic. No more phone calls from the principal, and her grades steadily improved.
I am convinced that children with ADHD symptoms can be helped, and should be. A child who is unable to succeed in school and is rejected by peers could have lifelong problems with self-image. Not all children with ADHD require medication, but dietary or behavioral conditioning can be beneficial. (More on treatments in a future entry.)
For more information on Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, visit www.ADHD.com.