The ABCs of ADD/ADHD

Find out if your child has ADD/ADHD, and what you can do to help.

Could My Child Have ADD/ADHD?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), now referred to by physicians as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is a condition that affects about five percent of American children today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, boys are two to three times more likely to suffer from ADHD than girls.

The classic signs of ADHD are a child's inability to focus and a tendency to act impulsively. Here are some other common symptoms:

  • Inappropriate levels of activity
  • Distractibility
  • Inability to sit still or pay attention in class
  • Tendency to act "without thinking"
  • Becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
  • Rarely following instructions carefully and completely
  • Often losing or forgetting things
  • Frequent fidgeting and squirming
  • Having difficulty waiting in line or for a turn

All kids exhibit some of this behavior at one time or another. So how do you know if your child is suffering from ADHD or he's just a wild kid? Children who are responding to stressful family situations, are bored in the classroom, or are passing through certain stages of development may, at times, appear inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive. That doesn't mean they have ADHD.

But there are a few clues that may signal that your child's actions are a symptom of ADHD. You should consult with your child's teacher and pediatrician if his symptoms appear:

  • Before age 7
  • Continuously -- not just in response to a temporary situation
  • To last for at least six months
  • More severely than other children in the same age group
  • In multiple settings (not just in the classroom or on the playground)

You should also consider talking with a mental health professional to rule out other possible psychological problems, such as depression or a learning disorder.

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