When my son was young, I often wondered what were the signs of ADHD in children. Do you think your child may have ADD/ADHD? Do you see behaviors that make you question if there isn’t something bigger going on with your child?
Chances are, some people who think they know the symptoms of ADHD may be mistaken while others refuse even to acknowledge the disorder. Here are some tips for when you should be concerned about the possibility that you or someone you love has ADHD. Then it’s time to see your doctor, or a doctor who specializes in ADHD.
When my son Vman was a toddler, he just seemed to be bouncing off of the walls all of the time. He just couldn’t sit still for more than 15 minutes or keep his attention focused on something longer than that time… even when he was excited about it.
Vman also has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), which added to the difficulty of figuring out what he was managing. As a kid who was a seeker when it came to physical activity, we just couldn’t figure out if he had a combo of SPD and ADHD or not.
Wondering if your child has SPD or ADHD? Read what the difference is between ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.
For us, one of the key behavioral issues he faced was he was obviously not in control of just how out of control he was.
We also had to wait until he was a little bit older to have him officially diagnosed. One of the tricks with ADHD is some of the behaviors can be considered typical for toddlers. It’s not until children are older and should have the internal systems to control themselves and focus that the issues become apparent.
What are the Signs of ADHD in Children?
Here is a brief list of symptoms in children that can help you see if your child is showing the signs of ADHD.
I should also note that I’m calling ADD and ADHD one in the same. It’s becoming more common to use the term ADHD as an overarching description. That doesn’t mean that every child has hyperactivity but that it a can be a component.
According to experts, most signs and symptoms of ADHD in children appear before the age of seven. It’s a good idea to distinguish between “normal childhood behavior” and ADHD, which is something a qualified health professional can help you with. Here are some of the signs of this disorder in children.
A child with ADHD does not usually have simply a child-like attention span. A child with ADHD usually has trouble concentrating on anything at all, no matter how interested he or she is in the subject or topic. It may be ADHD if your child simply can’t concentrate on anything, especially something detailed.
When Vman was a toddler, he loved trains. But unlike a lot of toddlers, he couldn’t just play with a simple set and keep himself occupied. As part of our own survival, my husband and I would spend the weekends with Vman building elaborate train sets that would literally take over the entire dining room or basement. It was the only way to keep him engaged; otherwise, he would be off to something else even though he really did love playing with trains.
Staring off into space
This is a symptom of ADD that many people may not recognize, since many people associate these disorders with hyperactivity. One of the reasons why there is a distinction made by some between ADD and ADHD is because hyperactivity is not necessarily a component of ADD. A child who is a “dreamer” and seems detached from reality, staring out the window for long periods rather than paying attention, may have ADD.
A child with ADHD may engage in impulsive behavior that he or she cannot control. This certainly was the case with my Vman, as shown in one of our disastrous grocery store visits.
Kids with ADHD often have little sense of social boundaries and may interrupt or ask inappropriate questions. Children with ADHD find it difficult to contain their emotions, too, and may act out in tantrums or angry outbursts.
Along the same lines to impulsive behavior, if a child cannot control him or herself with regard to disruption – even at the expense of social relationships – it may be ADHD. A child with ADHD may be disruptive even if the activity itself involves movement and motion, such as physical education or playing on the playground. If this behavior occurs in school and at home, that’s another signal that it may be ADHD.
Also along the lines of impulsive behavior, children with ADHD tend to blurt out things at inappropriate times, and the things they blurt may be inappropriate. Even if corrected, children with ADHD seem unable to control this impulse.
As an example, Vman’s teacher would say he would often interrupt her with the answer, even if she hadn’t called on him. He also would talk during story time, commenting about what he thought of the story or about what was happening in the story. He knew he shouldn’t be, but he just couldn’t help himself.
Kids are normally active and “wiggly,” but kids with ADHD are constantly in motion, often multi-tasking. Fingers, legs, arms, and hands are always moving when an ADHD child is told to sit still. If not being asked to sit still, ADHD kids will bounce around from one thing to the next.
Chronic fidgeting also falls under the category of hyperactivity. Yes, nearly all children fidget. In children with ADHD, though, it may be a compulsive, repetitive behavior that is distracting and disruptive. When a child feels like he or she has to fidget, it may be ADHD rather than just childish wiggles.
Signs and Symptoms of ADD/ADHD in Adults
Have you ever thought that your spouse (or even you) has ADHD? There is a strong genetic component to ADHD. And did you know that a child with ADHD is four times as likely to have had a relative who was also diagnosed with attention deficit disorder?
Here are some signs of ADHD in adults that may give you better insight:
In this day and age, many adults juggle many roles, and it’s not unusual to feel or be disorganized. In an adult with ADHD, however, it’s a chronic problem that may seriously inhibit their productivity. They are often late, and they live among piles of clutter and papers, unable to get them in order.
Adults with ADHD have trouble concentrating, too. They may find their mind wandering off on tangents no matter how much they try to stay with one topic.
Poor time management
If an adult has ADHD, he may feel like he can never “get it together.” Charts, notes and lists only add to the clutter, and the person often feels overwhelmed by organizing even small tasks.
Children aren’t the only ones who can have temper tantrums. If an adult seems unable to control angry outbursts and finds him or herself unable to control emotions, then it may be ADHD, signaling an inability to control their impulses.
Adults with ADHD may engage in what is known as hyperfocus – they may get completely consumed by a topic or subject of interest that they find fulfilling. This is said to be a coping mechanism for blocking out distractions, which, for the adult with ADHD, the world is filled with.
Do you know a workaholic? Adults with ADHD may be driven to work, work, work. This may tie in with “hyperfocus,” a somewhat ironic symptom of ADHD in adults. They may get so focused on a task or project that they completely lose track of the passage of time, the needs of their families and so forth.
If any of these symptoms seems to describe you and/or your child, it’s important to seek out medical advice to get a proper diagnosis.
We took our son Vman to a neuropsychologist who was able to do a full diagnosis for him. We found that while ADHD was creating some behavioral problems for him, it was also seriously inhibiting his ability to learn how to read. Talk about a shocker!
Read my personal journey with parenting an ADHD kiddo!
To learn more about ADHD and how to parent a child with ADHD, I really like ADDitude… an online magazine and fabulous resource.
For further reading about ADHD, consider the following affiliate links: