ADHD in Children: Are You Looking for the Right Signs?

When it comes to your children, you always want the best for them in every way—from success to health. But sometimes, things don’t always go as planned. Between getting them ready for school to working on homework, attention spans for active little ones can be short. So when should you start to worry that their inability to focus or rambunctious behavior might be a concern?

Dr. Crystal Beatle, a neuropsychologist on the medical staff at Baylor Our Children’s House Frisco, shares some of the signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in this video interview with KTXD-TV.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is not the inability to pay attention like a lot of people think it is. What it really is, is the inability to selectively focus. So, you have difficulty paying attention to what’s important because you’re paying attention to everything (the sights, the smells the sounds) around you.

What are the signs of ADHD?

There are three subtypes of ADHD: Inattentive ADHD, hyperactive impulsive ADHD, or combined type. Signs to look for include the inability to pay attention, hyperactive behavior and impulsivity.

If a child had difficulty finishing tasks, makes careless mistakes on work, or has gaps in learning that can’t be explained by absences, these could be indications that the child has ADHD. Other signs might include finding difficulty in standing in lines or frequent interrupting.

When should you reach out for professional help?

As a parent, any time you have concerns about your child is a good time to turn to a professional for help or further evaluation, but the key to look for is significant impairment in multiple settings. If the behavior is impairing a child’s school performance, social performance, and the child’s ability to complete household chores or tasks, you should consider reaching out to a professional.

Anxiety and depression can sometimes mimic the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity, so it is important that clinical evaluation be considered if you are uncertain of your child’s exact symptoms.

After the diagnosis, what are your next steps?

Medication is an option, but medication is not the only option. ADHD medication does not “cure” ADHD or make it go away. It masks the symptoms and makes it easier to deal with it. The problem with medication is that it doesn’t teach, so as soon as the medication stops, the child has still not necessarily learned the skills they need to cope with this disorder.

Behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, exercise and extra sleep can also work just as well as medication. Research has shown that an additional 30 minutes of sleep a night can make a tremendous difference. Ideally, 30 minutes of exercise prior to activities that take a lot of mental effort can help focus as well.

It is important to remember that ADHD affects people of all ages, not just children. Although ADHD can be diagnosed at any age, the longer the condition is left unevaluated, the longer it can continue to affect life.

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Megan McCook
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ADHD in Children: Are You Looking for the Right Signs?