Though your child may have some symptoms that seem like ADHD, it might be something else. That's why you need a doctor to check it out.
There is no specific or definitive test for ADHD. Instead, diagnosing is a process that takes several steps and involves gathering a lot of information from multiple sources. You, your child, your child's school, and other caregivers should be involved in assessing your child's behavior. A doctor will also ask what symptoms your child has, how long ago those symptoms started, and how the behavior affects your child and the rest of your family. Doctors diagnose ADHD in children after a child has shown six or more specific symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity on a regular basis for more than 6 months in at least two settings. The doctor will consider how a child's behavior compares with that of other children the same age.
It is very difficult to diagnose ADHD in children younger than 5. That's because many preschool children have some of the symptoms seen in ADHD in various situations. Also, children change very rapidly during the preschool years.
In some cases, behavior that looks like ADHD might be caused instead by:
A sudden life change (such asdivorce, a death in the family, or moving)
Medical disorders affecting brain function
3 Types of ADHD in Children
Doctors may classify symptoms as the following types of ADHD:
Hyperactive/impulsive type. Children show both hyperactive and impulsive behavior, but for the most part, they are able to pay attention.
Inattentive type. Formerly called attention deficit disorder (ADD). These children are not overly active. They do not disrupt the classroom or other activities, so their symptoms might not be noticed.
Combined type (inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive). Children with this type of ADHD show both categories of symptoms. This is the most common form of ADHD.
Behavioral Treatments for Children With ADHD
Behavioral treatment for children with ADHD includes creating more structure, encouraging routines, and clearly stating expectations of the child. Other forms of ADHD treatment that may benefit your child include:
Social skills training. This can help a child with ADHD learn behaviors that will help them develop and maintain social relationships.
Support groups and parenting skills training. This includes support for the parents and helping them learn more about ADHD and how to parent a child who has ADHD.
What Treatment Is Best for My Child?
No single treatment is the answer for every child with ADHD. Each child's needs and personal history must be carefully considered.
For example, a child may have undesirable side effects to a medication, making a particular treatment unacceptable. If a child with ADHD also has anxiety or depression, a treatment combining medication and behavioral therapy might be best.
It's important to work with a doctor to find the best solution for your child.