ADHD: Seven behavior signs that may (or may not) add up to a diagnosis

The signs of ADHD are also behaviors common to many children. Know what to look for and when the signs indicate a medical evaluation for ADHD is warranted. Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

WASHINGTON, October 24, 2013 The cases of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continues to rise. However, it is not clear whether an increasing number of kids are developing symptoms, or if more physicians are diagnosing the condition. 

What makes assigning this diagnosis and the accuracy of incidence statistics difficult are the symptoms. Many of them are behaviors common to children who do not have the disorder. To give this diagnosis, a doctor must consider the number and frequency of ADHD symptoms a child demonstrates, and the effects these behaviors have on the child’s functioning. Still, the line between ADHD and chronically-rambunctious is not always clear.  

Seven Signs of ADHD

Because many children routinely engage in ADHD behavior, it is not easy for parents to discern whether a son or daughter may need help. However, if your child engages in several signs of ADHD and you notice these behaviors negatively affect their schoolwork and peer relationships, you will want the child evaluated by a physician or mental health professional.

  1. It’s All About Me. Children with ADHD do not seem to register the wants or needs of others. They may have problems taking turns during a class activity or game, and they frequently interrupt people.
  2. On the Go. If your child has ADHD you may find yourself wishing he or she had an “off” switch. It is difficult for ADHD children to sit still for long; they tend to get up and run around whenever they can. If made to sit, they are often restless or fidgety.
  3. Emotional Impulsivity. Children with ADHD may have outbursts of exuberance or anger. It can be difficult for them to keep any emotion in check.
  4. Fuzzy Focus. Even when you speak directly to a child with ADHD, they may not be taking in your pearls of wisdom. When asked they might say, “I heard you,” yet be unable to repeat back what you just shared.
  5. On To Something New. Kids with ADHD may show great interest and enthusiasm at the beginning of a project or task, but often do not finish what they start. They tend to move on to something new before completing the old.
  6. Uneven Execution. Those with ADHD have difficulty following instructions, making, and executing a plan. This can easily lead to careless mistakes. However, it does not indicate lower intelligence.
  7. Head in the Clouds. Not all children with ADHD are energetic and on the move. Some individuals are quiet, removed from the other kids, and frequently stare off into space.

If Your Child is Diagnosed 

Should your child be diagnosed with ADHD, it is wise to research available treatment options. Some parents report that dietary and lifestyle changes reduce, or eliminate, their child’s ADHD behaviors. 

Another popular and often effective treatment strategy is behavior management. This means identifying the child’s most problematic behaviors and then creating a plan that rewards or reinforces the child for modifying that behavior. It naturally requires a close collaboration between child, parents, and the child’s teachers. 

Medication, if prescribed, may be either a stimulant such as Ritalin, or a non-stimulant such as an antidepressant. Some children function better with medication, though drugs carry the risk of side effects. Consider trying other treatment options first, and adding medication if necessary.

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Jacqueline Marshall

Jacqueline Marshall is a writer for Help For Depression, and freelances primarily in the areas of psychology and personal development. She has a MA in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed therapist living near Chicago.

Jacqueline has experience helping those diagnosed with severe, persistent mental illness, and in providing general therapy services for individuals, couples, and families. Prior to counseling, she worked in graphic design and music education.

When not writing or counseling, Jacqueline enjoys reading literature and math-less books about quantum physics. She is a published poet, and has studied animal communication and energy healing.  


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