“I feel like my thoughts are scrambling around in my head, and I can’t focus on any of them.”
“It’s like my thoughts don’t translate.”
“I feel anxious and just can’t physically relax.”
“On bad days, my ADHD leaves me alone in a dark, isolated place.”
These are just some ways that adults who live with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) describe this chronic condition. Imagine what it’s like to be a child who cannot insightfully articulate their feelings or explain why they struggle to follow directions, sit when told, or act out with erratic, destructive behavior. For parents of the 6.1 million children with ADHD, understanding their child’s behavior before receiving an ADHD diagnosis and a treatment plan from their doctor can be a confusing and worrisome time.
To show support to parents, friends, family members, and teachers who care for students with ADHD, and the millions living, learning, and working with ADHD every day, October is National ADHD Awareness Month. If you think your child may be exhibiting early signs of this condition, here’s what you need to know.
What is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders impacting childhood. Typically diagnosed in childhood, it often lasts through adulthood. Children with ADHD may struggle to focus, control impulsive behavior, or seem to be highly busy or active.
There are three primary types of ADHD:
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation. The individual is excessively talkative, restless, and fidgety. They struggle to sit still long enough to complete classwork or even a meal. This type of ADHD often presents itself with excessive climbing, running, or jumping in young children. They lack impulse control, which can lead to accidents and injuries. As a result, they might interrupt others, speak when it’s not appropriate, or grab something when it’s not their turn.
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation. The individual struggles to stay organized, finish a task, pay attention to details, take instructions, and follow a conversation. They are easily distracted and forgetful, which makes it challenging to complete responsibilities or follow a routine.
- Combined Presentation: Symptoms of both predominantly hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive are equally present.
Since ADHD is a chronic, often lifelong condition, an individual’s symptoms may evolve.
Symptoms of ADHD
Since ADHD is typically diagnosed in children, parents and teachers are most likely first to question a child’s behavior, making them a young person’s best ally in an early and impactful diagnosis. You might identify the following symptoms in a child with ADHD:
- Frequent daydreaming
- Fidgeting, squirming, or having trouble sitting still
- Often losing objects or forgetting where they placed items
- Being excessively talkative
- Struggling with taking turns
- Making careless mistakes
- Taking unnecessary risks
- Lack of impulse control
- Difficulty getting along with others
When to Talk to Your Doctor
If at any time during your child’s early adolescence, you believe that they might be exhibiting signs of ADHD, talk to your pediatrician. If you are an adult who struggles with the symptoms listed above but was not diagnosed as a child, talk to your primary care provider. It is never too late to understand your health better and get help managing behaviors that may cause you to struggle with daily activities.