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Early signs of ADHD in children

Early signs of ADHD in children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a fairly common neurodevelopmental condition that is often overlooked, largely because it can be mistaken for bad behaviour or indiscipline. 

But let’s face it. Children are fidgety. What we label as bad behaviour is just them emotionally dysregulated and/or unable to communicate their emotions. Sometimes our little ones get so engrossed in whatever they are doing, they forget the rest of the world. They’re notoriously inattentive when they want to be!

However, if your little one is perpetually inattentive or fidgety, it could be a sign of ADHD. Now before you panic and rush to a developmental paediatrician, let’s delve a little deeper.

Here’s a quick guide on the signs of ADHD.

Understanding ADHD

One of the most common childhood developmental conditions, ADHD affects the child’s ability to control their spontaneous responses. It leads to behaviours such as inattentiveness, inability to follow instructions, a dislike for routine, and a tendency to blurt out remarks. 

Children with ADHD may also display hyperactive behaviour.

Symptoms of ADHD in children

As mentioned above, all toddlers and young children are inattentive. Trying to catch their attention when they’re working on a puzzle, reading a book, painting, or simply doing any engaging activity, can be in vain. 

A few instances of inattentiveness is not worrisome. However, consistent symptoms displayed at school and at home over a long period of time, warrants a closer look. Typically, children with ADHD are likely to appear tuned out or bored when expected to follow a routine or complete tasks that they do not like. Some common ADHD symptoms that may keep recurring include:

  1. Appearing demotivated and ‘spaced out’
  2. Trouble paying attention to anyone task for too long (leaving a puzzle/book/painting midway)
  3. Jumping from one activity to another or skipping steps in longer procedures
  4. Difficulty completing projects, especially ones that they perceive as boring (similar to symptom no. 2)
  5. Trouble concentrating in a noisy environment; can get easily distracted
  6. Difficulty following instructions or remembering things like chores
  7. Difficulty organising personal space and planning ahead for things like homework
  8. Tendency to fidget when expected to stay still
  9. Tendency to misplace personal items
  10. Hyperactivity, such as moving around, fidgeting constantly, or talking too much

It is important to mention that hyperactiveness is not always present in ADHD.

Many children are quiet and introverted. They could also just be uninterested in the task or activity presented to them. Unfortunately, such children are always misunderstood and tend to have a tougher time, with adults (parents and teachers) mistaking their behaviour for indiscipline. They may also have trouble performing group activities or playing games by the rules, with other children.

Diagnosing ADHD

It is understandable for parents to feel overwhelmed or even frustrated about their child’s ADHD symptoms. However, this is precisely why getting a diagnosis as soon as possible is so vital. Children can sense when their parents are upset with them. This can lead to them feeling guilty or angry at themselves. This in turn can manifest into further behavioural issues.

Your child’s paediatrician can also identify if any other conditions or circumstances could be responsible for the symptoms. These could include:

  • Behavioural problems such as an attachment disorder
  • A learning disability like Dyslexia (click here to know about learning disabilities)
  • Trauma from major incidents like a death in the family or parents’ divorce
  • Psychological disorders like depression or anxiety
  • Medical conditions like sleep disorders, thyroid problems, or epilepsy

Therapy for ADHD

Therapy for ADHD  at Plexus Neuro Centre will empower your little one and you to manage their impulsive or inattentive behaviour, particularly when they are in social settings. Our rehabilitation programme includes:

  • Occupational Therapy: This approach works to improve coping mechanisms, improves time management and organisational skills, and enables a child to lead a full life.
  • Behaviour Therapy – This is predominantly behaviour management, which teaches good behaviour and manners through rewards for completion and progress.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy –  This approach teaches children how to rethink their attitude to a situation and thus modify their behaviour.
  • Parent Training Programmes – These are to educate parents with specific ways to talk to and play with children so as to encourage positive behaviour in them.
  • Social Skills Training – This approach uses role-play to teach children how to behave in social settings.
  • Psychoeducation – This involves both children and their parents talking about ADHD so as to properly come to terms with it.

A good therapist will also focus on teaching children with ADHD to take charge of their behaviour and use it to their advantage. The tendency to think about multiple things at the same time could make for excellent idea generation or problem solving, if applied correctly. Various cognitive exercises can enable children to use this productively, improving their performance at school and enhancing their confidence.

It can be easy to label ADHD symptoms simply as bad behaviour or laziness. But it is important for parents to remember that their children cannot always help their condition. Therefore, it is our responsibility to seek a diagnosis for our children and commence appropriate treatment. Let’s avoid scolding and punishing our children. 

Remember, the earlier the intervention, the faster our little ones can learn to manage the symptoms, and grow into well-rounded individuals living purposeful lives.

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