Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that can affect how people interact socially. The condition can make school life and friendships hard for children but because a lot of the symptoms surround and focus on early learning processes, the term ADHD is used all too much as an excuse for challenging behavior in young children. For this reason ADHD is generally not diagnosed in children until the age of 6 and even then, there are strict criteria according to the National Health Service:
- Child must have displayed symptoms continuously for 6 months
- Child must be showing symptoms in 2 different settings to rule out behavior issues with either the parent or teacher.
- Child will be finding school life more difficult on a social, academic or occupational level.
- Child must not be showing symptoms related to other development issues or conditions.
Before we get into the symptoms of ADHD please keep the NHS’ recommendations in mind. Every child will show some of these symptoms at some point and it is all too easy to put labels on children as an excuse for our own mismanagement of that child. This goes for teachers and parents alike.
- Inability to recognize people’s needs.
- Interrupting others to get their point in.
- Difficulty controlling emotion due to frustration.
- Fidgeting and squirming. Not able to sit still for more than 2-3 minutes (must also be whilst taking part in activities that they enjoy).
- Easily distracted by new tasks, often not finishing old ones.
- Inability to listen and respond appropriately, often saying they understand but not taking in what you have said.
- Possibly always making noise, but could also be a daydreamer.
If you are still worried about your child, then there is no harm in getting them tested, but in a world that is over prescribing drugs, be sure that it is really what you want for your child and what is necessary to help them.