Signs of Juvenile ADHD

by Catherine Rein
(last updated April 22, 2009)

I have a nephew going into the first grade who was recently diagnosed as having ADHD. He is now getting special training and help at school. Having a child receive this diagnosis can be devastating, but with the right treatment and support it can be managed successfully.

Many children exhibit signs of inattention and high levels of activity making it very important that if you suspect ADHD you have a trained professional make the diagnosis. A trained specialist will evaluate your child and look into all possible reasons for their behavior. This evaluation will likely also include visits to your child's school and doctor.

The main signs of ADHD include:

  • Inattention. Children with ADHD have difficulty sustaining attention and may appear not to listen. They are overwhelmed with project instructions and may avoid complex tasks requiring a long attention span. They are easily distracted and may forget simple daily activities.
  • Hyperactivity. Your child might have ADHD with Primarily Hyperactive/Impulsive Type if they continually fidget or squirm. They might have excessive amounts of energy and have difficulty waiting to take turns or engage in quiet activities. These children may talk too much and interrupt others.
  • Impulsivity. Impulsivity is another component of hyperactive/impulsive criteria. Children with ADHD will blurt out answers without waiting for even the question to be finished. They have trouble resisting even dangerous impulses such as climbing or running into the street. These children might also have trouble socializing, as they often speak without thinking or consider the reactions of others.

There are also combined types of ADHD that may exhibit symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. The diagnosis of ADHD requires that a child meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria.

Treatment of a child with ADHD needs to include coordination between parents and school personnel. If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, you should request regular monitoring and evaluations to make sure the best outcome.

There are medication options available that can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. If medication is not an option for your child, there are other treatments available. You should consider multiple, simultaneous strategies, including education about ADHD, behavioral intervention strategies, social skills training and vocational counseling. No one strategy by itself is likely to be sufficient and the treatment plan needs to be tailored to the needs of the child.

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