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Does My Child Have ADHD?

To all the parents asking themselves this question, I want you to know that it can be a real concern. If I had to guess, I bet you probably landed on this blog because you just aren’t sure what’s going on with your child. You know they are still a kid and will likely be loud and rambunctious, and even a little spaz-tastic if we’re being perfectly honest (don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone else if that’s what you’re thinking). But still, they can be so chaotic to manage. If you leave them alone for more than a few minutes to complete a task, you might find that they have wandered off, either physically or even mentally. But still, you’re just not sure if your child is being just that, a child, or if there is something else going wrong under the surface.

What are the Signs of ADHD in Kids?

If what I have said so far has resonated with you, then I suggest that you give this blog a good, careful read. This blog can in no way definitively diagnose your child, but I am writing it to mirror the way I would talk to a parent in my office who suspects ADHD in them. Let’s start with the basics. ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. A child (and even an adult) suffering from this disorder may have a difficult time maintaining focus on a task, conversation, or other activities. It helps to think about the last six months and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does my child tend to start a task, but rarely finish it on their own?
  2. Does my child seem to start daydreaming, even in the middle of a conversation?
  3. Does my child make repeated mistakes in school work that they should be aware of (perhaps a teacher has told you before that they don’t seem to pay attention to what they are doing)?
  4. Does my child’s room/workspace always seem disorganized and messy?
  5. Does my child lose track of important items easily like schoolwork, keys, pens/pencils, etc.?

These are only some of the examples of inattention that are common for people struggling with ADHD. Another set of symptoms have to do with the hyperactivity portion of the diagnosis. This part of the diagnosis can be broken down into two parts, hyperactivity itself, and impulsiveness. These tend to be more noticeable behaviors that happen in the home, at school, and in other settings. Think again about your child’s behavior over the last six months and ask yourself:

  1. Does my child appear restless when they have to be still (a teacher may have mentioned seeing them fidget in their seat during class)?
  2. Does my child have a hard time playing quietly?
  3. Is my child extremely talkative?
  4. Does my child have a hard time waiting for their turn in an activity, or conversation (they might blurt out an answer in the middle of a question or take their turn during a game at the wrong time)?
  5. Does my child often engage in physical activity at inappropriate times?

These are all classic signs of ADHD in a child. Children may appear to have these traits generally speaking, but when you notice several of them in one child who has a hard time controlling them, even with repeated correction, then you could very well be seeing ADHD at work.

So my kid has many of these symptoms of ADHD. Is it possible that it’s not ADHD?

Yes, it is possible that your child may be struggling with something else other than ADHD such as a mood disorder. For example, if your child is struggling with anxiety, you may notice signs of restlessness or distractibility. The difference here is that these symptoms are due to excessive worrying about a real or imagined fear like werewolves or a break-in. Some children (and again, even adults) who have an ADHD diagnosis can struggle with feelings of anxiety as well, but they often relate to direct symptoms of the disorder. For example, your child may know that a school assignment is due in a week, but they have difficulty with time management or maintaining long periods of concentration on it. They then procrastinate until the day before it is due, and spend the whole day, and possibly night, working on it frantically. They might not even get it done on time, or at all, leaving them feeling miserable.

Steps to Confirm ADHD

Okay, what’s next? If reading this has given you a reason to suspect ADHD, then the best way to be sure is to get your child tested. ADHD testing has three phases. 

  1. First, the parent(s) would meet with a psychologist (such as myself) to complete a thorough in-depth clinical interview. They would discuss specific questions about the child’s background such as their developmental history including prenatal, medical, and mental health history, and specific behaviors seen at home and in the school. 
  2. Secondly, the parent(s) would be given a questionnaire form to complete that asks about specific behaviors they see with their child and return them to the psychologist. The psychologist would also speak with the child’s teacher(s) and provide them with the teacher questionnaire to learn about behaviors in school. 
  3. Thirdly, the psychologist would administer several psychological tests and assessments to see if they are performing cognitive tasks at an age-appropriate level. The last step would be to comply with all that information into a clinical report and provide feedback to the parent(s) and child.

The good news is that you don’t have to go very far to find this resource. I currently offer ADHD testing here at Lifeologie Counseling and I would love to help you and your child determine if they have this neurological condition. Not only can I provide testing and recommendations, but I can also provide counseling to help your child learn coping strategies to manage their symptoms. Contact our office to get started.

find a counselor in grand rapids Michigan Denis Mundere

Denis Mundere, TLLP, is a therapist at Lifeologie. He knows that it can take peeling back a person’s layers to better understand what is causing their discomfort. Denis likes to dig deep and get to the root of the problem. Denis specializes in working with older teens and adults to better understand themselves and their identity. Denis also specializes in providing ADHD testing to children and teens. He will immediately put you at ease. To find out more about Denis, check out his biography. 

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