If you grew up in the 80s, it's likely you heard the term Attention-Deficit Disorder, or its acronym ADD, mentioned in hushed voices by parents or teachers. While the condition has affected many children and adults in a variety of different ways and in varying degrees for decades, it wasn't as widely talked about as it is say, today, under the moniker Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
According to the Child Mind Institute, the medical community added the "H" to ADD in 1987. There is no difference between ADD and ADHD, simply an update in terminology, which continues to confuse some.
"The newest way of thinking about ADHD is actually to get rid of types altogether and just think about which symptoms present prominently," says the Child Mind Institute website. "We still use the same clusters of symptoms (inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive), we just don’t consider them separate types. There are also adjustments to reflect new research on how ADHD symptoms present in adolescence or adulthood."
They Mayo Clinic defines ADHD as a chronic condition affecting millions of children and that frequently continues to present itself during adulthood. The disorder is categorized by a number of different symptoms and issues, including but not limited to difficulty focusing one's attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.
We're fortunate enough to live in an age where there are a variety of strategies available to not only help children and adults cope with their ADHD, but also zero in on how they can best learn in the classroom.
The condition is one that must be assessed and diagnosed by a psychology professional, but there are signs parents should consider when observing their child at home or in social settings that may point to ADHD.
1. Difficulty focusing
It's easy to pass off an inattentive child as one who simply isn't interested in performing a task or listening to mom and dad -- a sign of immaturity. But a closer at how well your child is able to pay attention, particularly when it's an activity they enjoy, could offer a clue as to whether or not they are on the ADHD spectrum.
The Mayo Clinic points to things like a failure to pay attention to details, trouble focusing on play, difficulty following instructions having to do with schoolwork or at-home chores, and avoiding activities that may require more mental effort than others, like homework.
2. Easily frustrated
You may find that your child expresses a great deal of anger over things that may appear only slightly frustrating to kids without ADHD, according to Understood.org. They can have trouble difficulty controlling impulses (more so than what is typical for a child their age) and find it tough to convey their emotions, ultimately leading to frustration which lends itself to fits of anger. Consider how you might feel if you didn't have the tools to easily or smoothly communicate what you're thinking or experiencing. Likely, you'd become angry and frustrated as well.
3. Prone to fidgeting
It's hard for kids to sit still for a finite period of time, which is why many school classrooms are offering a variety of different seating arrangements for kids, like stability balls, floor mats, and stools as opposed to your standard desk chair. For children coping with ADHD, fidgeting is even more prevalent and can present itself in many different ways, like talking when one is expected to be focused or getting up and moving about the room when they've been asked to stay seated. According to ADDitudemag.com, children may also consistently need to tap their hands or feet, also squirming in their seat.
4. Always on the go
Most kids seem to have endless amounts of energy, but a child with ADHD is described by ADDitudemag.com as ofen being "on the go" and seemingly "driven by a motor." Take note of whether or not your child shows discomfort sitting still for long periods of time or has trouble dining in restaurants because he or she simply needs to move. This may also mean the struggle to wait their turn during an activity or speaks endlessly and rapidly on anything and everything that comes to mind. They struggle to self-regulate in many different ways.
Again, ADHD is something that needs to be addressed and diagnosed by a professional, and will require an all hands on deck approach between you, your child's school, and other experts in the field who can best offer advice on how to proceed. A proactive approach will help your child feel more confident and successful in their endeavors, a win for everyone involved.
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