Written by: Daniel Cabral, Licensed Educational Psychologist (LEP3746)
Isn't it so confusing? You know that your son/daughter knows what to do (you just told them) but they just will not follow through. Is this behavior, or something else?
At school, Hailey never seems to be able to get her work done and when she gets homework it almost never makes it's way home. You ask yourself, is she is being lazy or is it something else?
Well, estimates are that about 5-7% of people likely have Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), That's a lot of kids whose brains are developing in such a way that it affects their ability to get things done and get along at school and at home. When Susie just keeps making simple mistakes on her work, and loses her assignments all the time you can't help but wonder if she has too much inattention, a major area of concern for ADHD.
Ahmad keeps fidgeting at school and even at the dinner table, it's like he just can't shut if off and he can't wait for his family to stop talking before interrupting them with his latest and greatest ideas. You can't help but wonder if he just has too much energy and ideas for his own good. Hyperactivity/impulsivity is another major area under ADHD.
Socially, there are impacts as well. If you are hyper and impulsive, you may have a really hard time not saying or doing things towards your friends that could make them upset. Or if your head is too in the clouds, sometimes you miss the opportunity to socialize all together as other kids may get tired from a lack of response from you.
As kids start to age, ADHD looks more like procrastination, getting easily distracted, struggling to manage materials, and needing lots of prompting and coaching for organization and planning.
Notice though that many of these scenarios seem like common childhood woes. It's just that for students with ADHD, these things happen way too often compared to classmates. Also, these problems should be present for 6 months or more by or before age 12.
So how can you know for sure that your child does or does not have ADHD? Key signs are that they exhibit some of these symptoms and are struggling to get along in school and at home. But realistically there is no way for you to know without seeking a trained and objective professional such as a licensed educational psychologist for assessment and diagnosis. This is an important step to determine the presence of ADHD or something else (like a learning disability) that prevents your child from learning and growing.
Here are some helpful parenting tips for inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity:
- Be consistent and up front with rules and expectations
- Stay positive during interactions
- Reward behaviors you would like to see more of
- Give yourself grace too!