ADHD stands for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
It is generally characterised by children having difficulties in the areas of attention, level of activity and impulse control. These difficulties present themselves before the age of 7 years and can affect many areas of the child’s and family’s life.
Alternatively, it is also, sometimes, referred to as “attention deficit disorder” (ADD) if problems are mainly due to difficulties with attention rather than hyperactivity.
Is the behaviour universal?
Yes. Children will show the ADHD symptoms and associated behavioural difficulties in all settings. If your child has ADHD it isn’t something that they can switch on and off. Some symptoms may present themselves with more difficulties depending upon the setting they are in. At school, your child may struggle as they are not completing tasks and are highly distractible. This then may lead to behaviours like being very talkative leaving their seat and being disruptive. They will be easily distracted. They will find listening and following instructions during lessons hard. Another problem that may become apparent is that they are falling behind in their academic work because of their inability to focus, listen and complete tasks. This sadly may compound their difficulties later on in their school life. Your child may find the home environment more difficult because it is generally a less structured environment compared to school.
When the problems are more evident at home, often it feels as a parent that you are failing and you are bad parent, which is clearly not the case.
The key symptoms in early childhood
I have divided them into two sections home and school. There is obviously a cross over but the issues can be different for teachers and parents in the different settings. This isn’t a definitive list by any means or in any specific order.
These are just some of the behaviours displayed. They really vary from child to child and in severity.
As children grow older they will display the same symptoms as younger children but with the added risk taking and impulsive behaviours becoming increasingly problematic. Their social interactions, relationships with peers, members of the family and teachers will become more apparent because the behaviours are so diverse from the social norm. This may be viewed as defiance or misbehaviour.
More than half of children with ADHD have associated behavioural issues. This may even take the form of a tantrum or more serious or as oppositional defiance disorder. Often these children may display problems such as dyslexia or difficulties with language skills or motor coordination. They may even have repetitive behaviours, tics and anxiety related problems.
Has my child got ADHD
I expect you just read the symptoms list and your child has virtually every one, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, they are forgetful, don’t ever listen to anyone and can’t sit still. But this is just generally a normal developmental stage.
It is when the symptoms are more extreme than you’d normally expect for the child’s developmental level. It is when the symptoms are interfering with learning and other aspects of life that maybe a referral maybe needed.
Information and support for all those affected by ADD and ADHD
National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service (ADDISS)
Resources and information for ADHD