Childhood attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder [ADHD}is diagnosed after a child has shown six or more specific symptoms of inactivity and/or hyperactivity on a regular basis for more than six months in more than two settings. There is no single test for ADHD.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, he or she will likely be under the care of a team of health professionals. These professionals should have extensive experience treating ADHD, and should communicate with each other (and with you) on a regular basis about your child’s care.
A doctor can diagnose ADHD with the help of standard guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The diagnosis of ADHD involves the gathering of information from several sources, including school staff, caregivers, and parents. The doctor will consider how a child’s behavior compares with that of other children the same age.
The diagnosis of ADHD will probably be made by a pediatric psychologist or doctor –a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or neurologist (a specialist in diseases of nervous system). Other members of the team might include nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, and other therapists (counselors, family therapists, etc)
Conditions that might accompany childhood ADHD
- Oppositional defiant disorder — As many as one-third to one-half of all children with ADHD have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). These children are often disobedient and have outbursts of temper.
- Conduct disorder — About 20% to 40% of ADHD children might eventually develop conduct disorder (CD), a more serious pattern of antisocial behavior. These children frequently lie or steal, and tend to disregard the welfare of others. They risk getting into trouble at school or with the police.
- Anxiety and Depression — Some children with ADHD might have anxiety or depression. If the anxiety or depression is recognized and treated, these children will be better able to handle the problems that accompany ADHD.
- Mania/bipolar disorder — A few children with ADHD will go on to develop mania. Bipolar disorder is marked by mood swings between periods of intense highs and lows. The bipolar child might have elated moods and grandiosity (feelings of importance) alternating with periods of depression or chronic irritability.
Symptoms of ADHD in a child
Signs and symptoms of inattention may include:
- Often fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
- Often has trouble sustaining attention during tasks or play
- Seems not to listen even when spoken to directly
- Has difficulty following through on instructions and often fails to finish schoolwork, chores or other tasks
- Often has problems organizing tasks or activities
- Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework
- Frequently loses needed items, such as books, pencils, toys or tools
- Can be easily distracted
- Often forgetful
Signs and symptoms of hyperactive and impulsive behavior may include:
- Fidgets or squirms frequently
- Often leaves his or her seat in the classroom or in other situations when remaining seated is expected
- Often runs or climbs excessively when it’s not appropriate or, if an adolescent, might constantly feel restless
- Frequently has difficulty playing quietly
- Always seems on the go
- Talks excessively
- Blurts out the answers before questions have been completely asked
- Frequently has difficulty waiting for his or her turn
- Often interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or games
ADHD behaviors can be different in boys and girls:
- Boys are more likely to be primarily hyperactive, whereas girls are more frequently undiagnosed as they tend to be quietly inattentive.
- Girls who have trouble paying attention often daydream, but inattentive boys are more likely to play or fiddle aimlessly.
- Boys tend to be less compliant with teachers and other adults, so their behavior is often more conspicuous.
Types of ADHD in children
Doctors might classify symptoms as the following types of ADHD:
- Combined type (inattentive/hyperactive/impulsive) — Children with this type of ADHD show all three symptoms. This is the most common form of ADHD.
- Hyperactive/impulsive type — Children show both hyperactive and impulsive behavior, but are able to pay attention.
- Inattentive type (formerly known as attention deficit disorder [ADD]) — These children are not overly active. They do not disrupt the classroom or other activities, so their symptoms might not be noticed.
*Note : The information on this page is not a medical statement or to give medical advice. Please seek the appropriate help from your medical professional.