Signs of ADHD
Everyone shows signs of ADHD at one time or another. But kids with ADHD struggle a lot more with them than other kids their age. The key symptom is trouble with focus. Many kids also struggle with self-control or are hyperactive.
ADHD doesn’t look the same in all kids. And signs look different at different ages. Some may even disappear as kids get older, even though ADHD doesn’t go away.
There’s one confusing sign of ADHD. Kids who have trouble focusing most of the time can often “hyperfocus” or focus very well on things they find really interesting. For example, they might focus for hours on playing a sport but for only a few minutes on doing homework.
Here are some signs of ADHD you might see in different grades.
- Ignores directions or doesn’t follow them
- Grabs things without permission
- Needs to be frequently reminded to stop and listen
- Gets up, fidgets, or talks when expected to be quiet
- Seems daydreamy and distracted, and easily loses focus
- Often loses or forgets things
- Is often restless
- Doesn’t think about consequences before doing things
- Has trouble getting organized and prioritizing things
- Acts impulsively or does risky things
- Fidgets and talks too much
- Has trouble meeting deadlines and finishing tasks
Find out what hyperactivity can look like in teens with ADHD.
Finding out your child has ADHD
There aren’t any medical tests for ADHD. So evaluators use other methods to diagnose it. They ask parents to fill out detailed questionnaires about their child’s behavior. (Teachers may also get a questionnaire.)
Evaluators also interview kids and their parents or caregivers. They ask for a detailed history of the child’s health. They also ask about how the child functions at school, at home, and in social situations.
There are different types of professionals who diagnose ADHD in kids. They mostly work outside of schools, and many can look for other conditions that kids with ADHD often have. Two of the most common are anxiety and learning differences.
Kids can also get a free evaluation at school. This type of evaluation won’t lead to a diagnosis of ADHD. But it can pick up on some of the challenges that kids with ADHD have.
How professionals can help with ADHD
There are a few treatment options for ADHD. Different professionals help with different ones.
Mental health professionals help kids and families understand and cope with ADHD. Some may do behavior therapy. This is a reward system to help turn negative behaviors and habits into positive ones.
And school psychologists can help create plans to give kids with ADHD extra support at school. For example, a child might get accommodations to make it easier to focus in class.
How you can help your child with ADHD
Kids can learn to manage ADHD symptoms and thrive. Supporting your child starts with understanding what ADHD is and what it isn’t.
You can also:
For more ideas, explore ADHD strategies to try at home. And find out what a mom wishes others knew about parenting a child with ADHD.
ADHD is common in kids.
ADHD isn’t a problem of laziness or willpower.
With the right support, kids with ADHD can thrive.
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About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.