All children can be fidgety, impulsive and have short attention spans at time – it is perfectly normal.
For children with ADHD however these behaviours are more pronounced, occur more frequently, have a bigger impact on their lives and will occur in a variety of settings.
The signs your child may have ADHD or ADD fall into three common areas:
Not every child will experience these signs to the same degree and it is also common for children and teenagers’ behaviour to be different or more pronounced in different settings. It’s also common for children with ADHD / ADD to experience differing symptoms as they grow up, so as a parent you may notice a shift in the challenges they experience – this is normal.
A diagnosis of ADHD / ADD requires an impact to be seen in a variety of settings – a thorough assessment should seek feedback from parents, schools and other environments your child spends time in to fully understand this.
It’s also important that parents understand that there can be other reasons why a child might behave in a ‘bouncy’ way or find it really hard to concentrate. These may include ASC or mood disorders.
Understanding the reasons behind your child’s behaviour is therefore crucial to getting the right treatment in place and a thorough assessment will look at whether there is another reason that would better explain your child’s behaviours.
Common signs of the hyperactivity element of ADHD / ADD in children and adolescence include:
Common signs of the impulsivity element of ADHD / ADD in children and adolescence include:
Common signs of the inattention element of ADHD / ADD in children and adolescence include:
Other common signs that a child may have ADHD / ADD include:
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1. Predominantly inattentive (ADD) ADHD
Stereotypically, it is thought that girls with ADHD are more likely to have this type, but Psychiatrists will see both girls and boys who meet the criteria for ‘ADD’ or inattentive ADHD.
Children with inattentive ADHD seem to be sitting quietly, but are often not listening or paying attention. Children with Inattentive ADHD can often go undiagnosed as their behaviour is not as obviously disruptive. Left undiagnosed, these children may develop self-confidence issues as they may feel they are ‘stupid’ or unable to complete tasks. They can experience inner turmoil as they struggle to finish tasks or be able to listen to the instructions required of them.
2. Predominantly hyperactive – impulsive
Children with hyperactive / impulsive ADHD fit the stereotypes of ‘bouncing off the walls’, fidgeting and getting up from their seats even when they are asked to sit quietly. Children with this diagnosis can take risks, such as jumping from heights and can be disruptive in a classroom.
A lot of young children with ADHD will display hyperactive tendencies – as they mature and grow older they are able to learn different ways of manging their restlessness. For instance, teenagers tend to fidget more, but will be able to remain in their seat.
For a child to be diagnosed with combined type ADHD, they have to experience both symptoms of hyperactive and inattentive ADHD. This can mean a child experiences all the restlessness and fidgeting of the hyperactive element, but also gets easily distracted, struggles to complete a task and may forget to turn homework in on time.
Many of the behaviours described above are experienced by all children from time to time, which can make it hard to know if your child has ADHD. As a general rule, children with ADHD often do not act like other children their age, experience the above behaviours in a variety of settings and whilst doing a variety of activities.