Symptoms of ADHD typically begin to appear when children enter elementary school. If your child is struggling with focus, impulse control, organization, or hyperactivity, it might be time for him or her to get tested.
Though experts now believe that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is present from birth, ADHD behaviors tend to go unnoticed until children reach elementary school. That’s largely because symptoms of ADHD — inability to pay attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness — are common young childhood behaviors.
However, because school settings demand that students sit still, remain quiet, and pay attention, the differences between children with and without ADHD often become apparent around age 7. Children with ADHD may have difficulty respecting personal space or giving others a chance to speak; they may struggle to focus on tasks they find boring for even a few minutes.
But are these behaviors indicative that a child is struggling with ADHD? Only a doctor can answer definitively answer that question. But if you’re wondering whether it’s time to ask your child’s pediatrician about ADHD, here’s what you need to know.
What is ADHD?
In the past, ADHD and ADD — attention deficit disorder — were considered two different conditions, as some patients with inattention problems were not also hyperactive. More recently, the umbrella term “ADHD” has been used to describe patients with all forms of ADHD.
ADHD is surprisingly common. According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 11 percent of children aged 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point. Boys are about three times as likely as girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, though the rate of diagnosis in girls and women is rising.
ADHD doesn’t present the same way in every child. Some children exhibit the symptoms that are most traditionally associated with ADHD, such as bouncing off the walls and blurting out answers during class without raising her hand.
However, even more children have inattentive ADHD. These children tend to be “off in their own world.” Though they struggle to finish their work, they aren’t disruptive, so their ADHD often goes unnoticed and untreated.
When should you talk to your child’s pediatrician about ADHD?
ADHD can be exhausting for parents and kids alike. Children with ADHD tend to interrupt others, have trouble waiting their turn, throw temper tantrums frequently, fidget, leave tasks unfinished, appear not to listen when others speak, forget tasks or lose things, and/or daydream often.
Though nearly all children exhibit these behaviors at some point during childhood, you might want to consult a pediatrician if you’re noticing them frequently or over a long period of time, or if they’re negatively affecting your child academically and socially. When ADHD is noticed early on — ideally before the age of 6 — many children can successfully undergo behavior therapy to learn and strengthen positive behaviors and eliminate problem ones.
For older children up to age 12, a combination of behavior therapy and ADHD medication is often recommended. With the proper care and treatment, children with ADHD can reduce symptoms and improve overall quality of life, especially when the condition is noticed and diagnosed at a young age.
If your child doesn’t have a pediatrician, or if you’re seeking a new pediatrician, consider making an appointment with Kids’ Health. We specialize in helping children reach their best — physically, emotionally, and academically. If you suspect that your child might have ADHD, we’ll be with you through every step of the diagnosis and treatment process. Contact us today.