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What is ADHD in Children?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavior disorder. It’s also called attention deficit disorder. It’s often first diagnosed in childhood. There are 3 types:

  • ADHD, combined. This is the most common type. A child with this type is impulsive and hyperactive. They also have trouble paying attention and are easily distracted.
  • ADHD, impulsive/hyperactive. This is the least common type of ADHD. A child with this type is impulsive and hyperactive. But they don’t have trouble paying attention.
  • ADHD, inattentive and distractible. A child with this type is mostly inattentive and easily distracted.

What are the symptoms of ADHDH in a child?

Each child with ADHD may experience different symptoms. They may have trouble paying attention, be impulsive or hyperactive. Most symptoms often happen together, but one may happen without the other. Some symptoms include:

  • Inattention
    • Easily distracted
    • Forgetfulness
    • Hard time attending to details
    • Hard time listening to others
    • Short attention span for their age
    • Poor ogranization skills for their age
    • Poor study skills for their age
  • Impulsivity
    • Often interrupts others
    • Has a hard time waiting for his or her turn in school or social games
    • Tends to blurt out answers instead of waiting to be called on
    • Takes risks often, and often without thinking before acting
  • Hyperactivity
    • Seems to always be in motion; runs or climbs, at times with no clear goal except motion
    • Has a hard time staying in a seat even when it’s expected
    • Fidgets with hands or squirms when in a seat
    • Talks a lot
    • Has a hard time doing quiet activities
    • Loses or forgets things repeatedly and often
    • Is not able to stay on task and shifts from one task to another without completing any

These symptoms may look like other health or behavior problems. Keep in mind that many of these symptoms may happen in children and teens who don’t have ADHD. A key part in diagnosis is that the symptoms must greatly affect how the child functions at home and in school. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is ADHD diagnosed in a child?

Your Southcoast Health pediatrician, child psychiatrist, or a mental health expert may diagnose ADHD. To do so, they will talk with parents and teachers and watch the child’s behavior. Diagnosis also depends on results from physical, nervous system, and mental health testing. Certain tests may be used to rule out other health problems. Others may check thinking skills and certain skill sets.

How is ADHD treated in children?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment for ADHD may include:

  • Psychostimulant medicines. These medicines help balance chemicals in the brain. They help the brain focus and may reduce the major symptoms of ADHD.
  • Non-stimulant medicines. These can help decrease the symptoms of ADHD and are often used in conjunction with stimulant medicines for even better results.
  • Behavior management training for parents. Parenting children with ADHD may be hard. It can cause challenges that create stress within the family. Classes in behavior management skills for parents can help lower stress for all family members. This training often happens in a group setting that encourages parent-to-parent support. Behavior management techniques tend to improve targeted behaviors in a child, such as completing school work.
  • Other treatment. Self-management, education programs, and assistance through your child’s school can also help.

How Southcoast Health Can Help

At Southcoast Health, our expert pediatricians will help you through your child’s diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan that is comfortable for your family. Talking about the signs, treatment plans and asking your pediatrician questions is important to helping your child live with ADHD. Southcoast Health will help you with resources and any questions you may have.