Symptoms in ChildrenADD/ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a treatable, but not curable, complex disorder that appears in childhood. ADHD is considered to be a mental health disorder as classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revised (DSM-IV-TR). In 1994 the disorder was changed from ADD to ADHD. ADHD symptoms in children can be difficult to diagnose and can be easily confused with other disorders. The main ADHD symptoms include: inattention, hyperactive and impulsive behavior.
ADHD affects approximately 4 to 6 percent of the school age population. On average, at least one child in every classroom in the U.S. has ADHD. Also, two to three times more boys than girls are affected by this disorder. ADHD often continues into adolescence and adulthood, requiring lifelong physical and emotional adjustments.
ADHD symptoms typically appear before the age of seven. In some children, ADHD symptoms can be noticeable as early as infancy. However, at any age, it can often be difficult to distinguish between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and normal “kid” behavior.
At one time or another, most healthy children are inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive. For example, parents may worry that their 3-year-old who can’t sit still during story time may have ADHD. But most preschoolers normally have a short attention span and cannot stick with one activity for too long. Even in older children and adolescents, attention span can often depend on the level of interest. We all know teens that can listen to music or talk to their friends for hours, but are a lot less focused when it comes to doing their homework or chores.
The same is true of hyperactivity. Young children are naturally energetic, often wearing their parents out long before they’re even tired. Children may become even more active when tired, hungry, anxious or in a new environment. Also, some children are just naturally more active than others. While some of these behaviors are normal, severity and consistency in any of these types of behaviors may indicate that your child has ADHD.
It important to note that children who have problems in school but get along well at home or with friends are not considered as having ADHD. The same is true of children who are hyperactive or inattentive only at home, but whose schoolwork and friendships aren’t affected by their behavior.
The main symptoms of ADHD in children are serious and consistent difficulties in the following three areas:
Many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are naturally inclined to fall into one category more than the other. However, most children with ADHD have some combination of both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.
Children who only show inattentive symptoms of ADHD are often overlooked since they are not disruptive. However, inattentive sypmtoms have consequences of their own. A child may get into trouble with parents and teachers for not following directions; underperforming in school; or fighting with other kids over not playing by the rules. Here is a checklist for discovering inattentive symptoms of ADHD in your child:
The more obvious symptoms of ADHD in children are hyperactive and impulsivity. These are the kids that are always on the go, bouncing from one task to the other but never completing any of them. Even when forced to sit still – which can be very difficult for them – their foot is tapping, their leg is shaking, or their fingers are drumming. These children often find it difficult to pay close attention to what is going on at school, often getting into trouble. It is more challenging for them to organize their schoolwork and their time than it is for most children. Children with symptoms of ADHD also have trouble concentrating on one thing if there are other things going on around them; they usually need a calm, quiet environment in order to sustain attention.
Here is a checklist for discovering hyperactive symptoms of ADHD in your child:
Here is a checklist for discovering impulsive symptoms of ADHD in your child:
Symptoms of ADHD in children may also be displayed as a Combined Type: having six or more symptoms of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
It is also important to note that ADHD symptoms usually manifest themselves differently in boys and girls:
ADHD symptoms in children vary greatly therefore it is important to seek professional help in diagnosing the disorder. If the signs of ADHD as described above last more than six months; occur in more than just one setting (typically at home and at school); regularly disrupt school, play and other daily activities and cause problems in relationships with adults and other children-it’s time to get help.
 Fowler, Mary, ADHD What are the Signs? FamilyEducation.com
 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder / Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD/ADD) University of Maryland Medicine, May 12. 2003.