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What are the signs of ADHD?

My 15-month-old never stops moving and won't sit for longer than a minute or two. Could he have ADHD?
Submitted by American Baby Team

It certainly sounds like you have a very busy, active toddler. These days, with parents hearing so much about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I can understand why you might wonder about your own child. However, it sounds as if your child's attention span is right in line with that of other 15-month-olds  --  on average, it's actually less than two minutes for this age group.
ADHD is generally not diagnosed in children younger than 5 or 6 because being highly active is well within the range of normal for toddlers and preschoolers. In fact, all the scientific literature on ADHD describes the disorder as "inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that's inappropriate for age." A child younger than 5 who might get diagnosed with ADHD usually exhibits severe impulsivity that puts him in danger, such as running into traffic or jumping off a high wall. In addition, any child diagnosed with ADHD must exhibit symptoms that interfere with his functioning (trouble with making friends and learning, not following the rules) in more than one setting, such as home and school.
What you want to watch for as your child becomes a preschooler (age 3 or 4) is whether his activity level gets in the way of his interacting and connecting with others, such as engaging in back-and-forth play and taking turns. You also want to make sure his activity level is not affecting his ability to learn: Is he moving so often and quickly that he doesn't have time to take in information or learn to problem-solve? If you're concerned at that time, talk with your child's pediatrician or another trusted child-development professional. For now, while your son's behavior sounds quite typical, there are things you can do to help him learn to slow down.
• Establish routines, especially around transitions such as getting into the car. Give him a warning that it's almost time to go bye-bye, help him end his activity, and have him choose a book or toy to take in the car to divert his attention, for example. Routines will help him to know what to expect and prepare for what's coming next.
• Make sure that your son is getting enough sleep since children tend to be more active and distracted when they're overtired. (Most toddlers his age need about 13 hours of sleep at night.)
• Offer lots of opportunities for safe, active play. Visit the playground; on cold or rainy days, create indoor obstacle courses with pillows that he can climb over.
• Make reading interactive. Encourage him to turn the pages, and ask him to point out the animals or objects in the pictures. As he grows, he can act out the story.
• Ask for your child's help with everyday activities, such as putting the spoons on the table or picking up leaves.
• Give your toddler time to wind down. Start limiting active play at least an hour before bedtime and 30 minutes before naptime. Engage in quiet, soothing activities instead.
And remember: Active children aren't wild or out of control -- they just need to move more than mellower kids.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, January 2005. Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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I understand why you might question whether this behavior is signs of a future ADHD diagnosis. I have 3 children & every one was a bit different in there energy and personality. The best thing you can do is be patient with your child. It can be exhausting for parents to keep up with a child who seemingly "bounces off the wall". Your reactions to your childs behaviors can have a huge impact on how they develop either for the better or for the worst. Diagnosis is usually not donw until after age 5
Submitted by shaheenda
As for talking, what we did with our son was talk and talk and talk some more with him allll day long! Repetition and even a little bit of babbling. Every time he talks i respond to him in complete sentences. I also say the correct word to items he points to and asks for. I try to read to him a book or two a day. We also use flash cards and pictures in magazines or newspapers. Hope it helps and trust me soon you will be saying "my son talks too much"! :-D
Submitted by hazelc511
My son started walking at ten months..he is 17 months now..I found that practicing everyday, a few minutes a day of holding his hands and letting him take a few steps at a time and then helping him stand up and just holding my arms out around him (hovering) he did a step or two before falling down..we did that everyday, a few times a day for 4 days and he finally walked on his own ever since that..I feel consistency and repetition is the key. Also, lots and lots of praise and clapping!Good luck!
Submitted by hazelc511
my son will be 17 months in a few days and he is not talking or walking although he will stand and at times take a few steps on his own why do some kids take so long to talk and walk?
Submitted by krisplusetwo