Do You Have Difficulty Paying Attention?
Do you or your child have difficulty paying attention, sitting still, or controlling impulsive behavior? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders which can continue into adulthood.
While we all can relate to moments of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, in the case of ADHD, these attributes become so persistent and pervasive that they usually end up interfering with our daily lives at school, at work, in social settings and even in relationships.
A common misconception is that ADHD is only a disorder in adolescence, and then they grow out of it. However, it has recently been found that ADHD, if untreated in children, can continue into adulthood.
The three subtypes of ADHD are: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive, or a combination of hyperactive-impulsive and inattention. In the predominantly inattentive category, children are less likely to act out, but rather may sit quietly doing something, but they are not actually paying attention to what they are doing. This form of ADHD is easy to overlook by parents and teachers. The combined form of ADHD, hyperactive-impulsive behavior coupled with inattention, is the most common type of ADHD.
Diagnosing & Treating
It is normal for children to display inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, so how do you differentiate between normal childlike behavior and a more serious disorder such as ADHD? To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must display these symptoms for 6 or more months and to a degree that is much greater or severe than other children their same age. The average age of onset of ADHD is 7 years old, and boys are at four times the risk than girls. ADHD is oftentimes treated through medications that are stimulants. Stimulant medication comes in several different options such as a capsule, a pill, liquid or a skin patch. Interestingly, stimulant medications often have a calming effect on children.
- Miss details, frequently switch from one activity to another, forget things
- Difficulty completing a task and loses interest in things more quickly than other children
- Become more easily confused and move more slowly than others
- Struggle to follow instructions
- Dash around and playing with a little of everything
- Cannot sit still but constantly in motion
- Often interrupts conversations
- Very impatient and has difficulty waiting for things
- Blurts out inappropriate comments
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ADHD is often times hard to diagnose, so it is important to advise with a family pediatrician, coupled with a specialist, in order to most accurately diagnose the disorder. Because their are certain events and short term situations that can affect a child’s behavior to imitate ADHD, it is important for a specialist to perform a thorough evaluation that covers a broad spectrum of the child’s environment and behavior over a more lengthy period of time.
Questions that your family pediatrician and specialist may ask about include:
- Does the child have a history of seizures?
- Have they had ear infections that could lead to hearing problems?
- Has the child experienced a sudden change such as a move or death in the family?
- Do the behaviors affect all aspects of the child’s life? And are they excessive and long-term or just for a short period?
- Are the behavioral issues more pronounced in your child than other children their same age?
- Do the behaviors occur in one place such as a play ground? Or in several settings?
- Is the behavior a response to a temporary situation?