Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder found in children and adults diagnosed with symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Every child is inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive once in a while. However, to be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must have at least six symptoms that persist over time and impact their ability to adapt to certain demands at school, at home, and on the playground.
Children with ADHD also have the tendency to act overly emotional and impulsive, which can make building relationships with others a bit more difficult.
Below, we asked our experts at Washington Center for Women's and Children's Wellness to share 5 signs that may indicate your child is suffering from ADHD.
1. Difficulty paying attention
Children suffering from ADHD have either too little dopamine or too few dopamine receptors. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for emotional regulation and feeling rewarded.
When dopamine levels are low or receptors aren’t working properly, you’re less motivated to focus, as there’s a smaller promise of a reward in your brain. Stimulants can usually fix this issue in children suffering from inattention.
2. Poor planning and difficulty staying organized
Children with ADHD often misplace objects (e.g., notebooks, pens, and books) and have a hard time estimating how long a task will take. They often wait until the last moment to do their homework or study for a test and have a hard time following a schedule.
3. Emotional dysregulation
Emotional dysregulation is a term that describes overblown reactions to seemingly small events.
For example, a child with ADHD may have a low tolerance for stressful situations and may get frustrated easily when having to wait. They may have difficulty calming down after getting upset, or they may have emotional outbursts.
Some research indicates that the areas in the brain responsible for emotional processing (amygdala and hippocampus) are smaller in the brains of ADHD patients.
4. Interrupting other people while they talk
Because of their hyperactive and inattentive manner, children with ADHD are more likely to talk than their peers and have difficulty focusing on what others are saying, often speaking over them.
5. Moving around a lot
Children with ADHD that are hyperactive can’t sit still for long periods. They may fidget, squirm, and get frustrated when they have to sit silent and focus, either at school or in other settings.
What treatment works best for ADHD?
Depending on the severity of their symptoms, your child may be recommended behavioral therapy to learn how to cope with ADHD and medications to reduce the severity of their symptoms.
Medications can improve focus, but this doesn’t mean that your child will focus on homework or studying. Behavioral therapy teaches kids how to regulate themselves and become better at not only sustaining attention and becoming more organized, but also redirecting their attention towards things that matter.
If you suspect your child has ADHD, contact us to schedule an appointment.