Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
October 1, 2021
Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Does my child have ADHD? The answer to this question does not typically come easy since there are three types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

It is important that you get an accurate diagnosis before deciding on a treatment plan. We will discuss all three types of ADHD in detail, as well as the signs and symptoms for each type.

We will also provide information on how to get an accurate diagnosis for your child with ADHD. It can be hard to watch your child struggle. We understand that you want them to have the best life possible!

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a psychiatric disorder that can be present in children and adults. It stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A person with ADHD does not have full control of their attention levels, their impulses, or both at the same time.

This is because he or she has too much dopamine in the brain. People with ADHD can be constantly bored and need immediate gratification to feel happy. This can cause impulse issues.

There are many reasons why someone might have ADHD. Some people might have a family history of mental illness, or they may have gone through trauma or abuse that happened at home. If someone has an unstable life where there is stress or other illnesses, then they could also have ADHD.

Three Types of ADHD

There are three types of ADHD. Each type has different symptoms, but they are all present at the same time. For parents out there that are concerned if their child has ADHD, it is important to know the three types.

Inattentive Type

The first type is the Inattentive Type, which does not show any hyperactive behaviors. Instead, people with this type of ADHD get distracted easily and are forgetful. They also tend to daydream a lot and be unorganized.

Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

The second type is Hyperactive-Impulsive Type (or H/I for short). People with this form of ADHD are constantly moving, fidgeting, and talking. They also have trouble sitting still for very long periods of time.

Combined Type

Finally, the third type is the Combined Type. People with this form of ADHD show symptoms from both types-inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive.

Does My Child Have ADHD: Signs of ADHD in Children

Signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can differ by child. ADHD also tends to go undiagnosed more in females than in males. This is due to the fact that a majority of the time females have inattentive type ADHD.

So, instead of being hyperactive, they are simply inattentive due to not paying attention. Below are some signs of inattentive and hyperactive ADHD to watch for.

Signs of Inattentive ADHD in Kids

Children get distracted easily and daydream. They have a hard time carrying out instructions and often forget to do things they were told to do.

Other symptoms of inattentive type ADHD are not listening when someone is talking to them or answering questions. Children with inattentive type ADHD may also avoid activities that require too much thought or effort.

Signs of Hyperactive-Impulsive in Kids

Some children with hyperactivity-impulsivity type ADHD might not be able to sit still. They may fidget, tap their hands or feet, talk a lot, or always need to be moving around.

Children with this ADHD type have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time. They can also interrupt other people’s conversations.

Signs of Combined in Kids

A child with combined-type ADHD can have symptoms from both the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types.

A person’s symptoms will depend on their age, how bad their condition is, and which type they have more often. If they have had the condition for a long time or if they are in treatment, then their symptoms can be different.

Symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers include:

  • Lack of attention, focus, or concentration.
  • Trouble paying attention to details.
  • Difficulty managing tasks.
  • Difficulty organizing work, tasks, or activities.
  • Does not complete work or does not finish work that has been started.
  • Does not follow instructions or does not listen to what is being said.
  • Does not follow through on instructions or work (for example, does not finish chores).
  • Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as homework).
  • Do things impulsively without thinking about the consequences first.

Diagnosis of ADHD in Children & Teenagers

How is ADHD diagnosed, is one of the most important questions. You should not try to self-diagnose your child. The most common age for people to be diagnosed with ADHD is in elementary school when they are seven years old. Hyperactive boys are still the most frequently diagnosed.

If your child has inattentive ADHD, as is often the case with girls, symptoms may go unnoticed throughout elementary school. ADHD doesn’t suddenly develop during puberty, but it may not be fully apparent until your kid faces high-school issues.

Some symptoms of ADHD are not seen until a child leaves home and goes to college. When children were younger, six times more boys had ADHD than girls. But in adolescence, the difference was three times greater.

A teenager must have had symptoms in two different settings, that happened before they turned 12. These settings are usually at home and school. The symptoms also need to affect how they are doing or growing.

ADHD Symptoms in Kids & Teenagers

In adolescence, there are many mood swings and changes in hormones. These things can make your child have a hard time with ADHD symptoms.

There will be times where you need to be patient and understanding of these challenges, as well as find a solution. It also passes very quickly. Look out for the most hazardous health risks that come from this condition.

Inattentiveness signs and symptoms of ADHD

Not all children with ADHD have trouble concentrating. They can focus and stay on task when they’re doing things they enjoy or hearing about subjects that interest them. But when the activity is tedious or repetitive, they rapidly lose attention.

Children with inattentive type ADHD have a hard time staying on track. Children who have inattentive type ADHD are not able to finish tasks. They can’t concentrate well when there are other things going on around them.

For such reason, it’s hard for them to complete their schoolwork and do what they need to do during the day. They usually require a peaceful, quiet setting in order to remain productive.

Teens with inattentive type ADHD tend to sit around doing nothing at all. Sometimes you can find them just staring into space. They may have trouble keeping up with conversations because something else will catch their attention.

These teens may also have a hard time following instructions. They may also have a hard time focusing on schoolwork or chores that require concentration.

Symptoms of inattention in children

  • They have a hard time remaining focused. They get distracted or bored with a project before it’s done.
  • When spoken to, they appear to not listen.
  • They may often have trouble remembering things and following instructions. They might not be able to pay attention to details or they might make careless mistakes
  • They are not organized, they don’t plan ahead, and they can’t finish anything.
  • They sometimes lose things like homework and books. They also sometimes lose toys.

Hyperactivity signs and symptoms of ADHD

The most apparent symptom of ADHD is excessive activity. Some children are naturally energetic. Children who have hyperactive attention deficit disorder symptoms are always moving.

They may attempt to complete several tasks at once, skipping from one activity to the next. Even when they’re forced to sit still, which might be difficult for them, their feet are tapping, their legs are shaking, or their fingers are drumming.

Teens with hyperactive ADHD tend to fidget, talk excessively, and interrupt others while they are talking. They can also play loudly when other people are sleeping, or have trouble taking turns when they are playing games with others. Teens with hyperactive ADHD also tend to be impatient and lack self-control in social situations.

Symptoms of hyperactivity in children

  • Fidget and squirm all the time.
  • These kids have a hard time sitting still, playing quietly, or relaxing.
  • Move constantly. Often found running or climbing inappropriately.
  • Excessive talking.
  • Have little patience and get angered easily.

Treatment for ADHD in Children & Teenagers

The treatment plan is very different from child to child, as well as the severity of their condition and how long they’ve had it. Your doctor will help you find a specific treatment that works best for your child.

In teens, symptoms for ADHD are treated with medication, and behavior therapy. Also, treatment can be accomplished through diet changes and nutritional supplements. Getting regular exercise and a good night’s sleep are also important.

Always talk to a mental health professional who can provide medical advice. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cannot be self-diagnosed. Your doctor will check to make sure any difficulties aren’t being caused by a physical or learning problem.

Many children with ADHD have learning problems, oppositional and defiant behavior, or mood and anxiety issues as well. These issues are usually treated by a physician. If required, you may be referred to a child psychologist or psychiatrist.

What does ADHD look like?

When most people think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, they think of a restless child bouncing off the walls. But this is only one side of the story. Some children with ADHD are excessively active, while others sit quietly with their attention miles away.

Some individuals put too much focus on a project and have difficulties changing it to something new. Others are merely slightly forgetful, but extremely impulsive.

Is it normal kid behavior or is it ADHD?

At some point, even healthy children will be inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive. Preschoolers’ attention spans are typically short, and they struggle to focus on one thing for lengthy.

Even in older children and teenagers, attention span is frequently determined by the level of interest. You may believe it’s only normal for your child’s behavior. It is at times.

Other times, it’s due to bad parenting or mischievous conduct. But how do you know whether it’s a problem with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Children with ADHD have a hard time behaving or concentrating. They might behave without thinking about what they are doing, or may find it hard to keep concentrating on things. This can make it difficult for them to learn and socialize at school, which means they cannot learn as much or interact with other children.

Unfortunately, ADHD symptoms are frequently misdiagnosed as emotional or behavioral issues. As a result, children with ADHD may be labeled as unmotivated or “troublemakers.” This is nothing more than pure fiction. ADHD is a brain illness. Children with ADHD do not “misbehave” on purpose.

The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics has studied the number of children (2-5 years old) with ADHD. They also looked at what treatments they received. In 2011-2012, about 237,000 toddlers aged 2-5 had an ADHD diagnosis based on reports from their parents. This is near twice as many children as in 2007-2008 (about 125,000).

Only about half of these children (50%) get treatment for ADHD.

Spotting ADHD at Different Ages

The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to go away as the child grows older. However, this does not mean that they no longer have it.

It is normal for some symptoms to disappear as a person gets older but others can still remain even in adulthood. In children with ADHD, their symptoms may vary from age group to age group.

They may also depend on how long they’ve had their condition. Teens who are more hyperactive than five-year-olds or younger are an excellent example.

For kids ages 3-5:

  • Does your child have trouble waiting when he/she wants something?
  • Does your child get restless when he/she has to wait?
  • Does your child always seem in a hurry or does he/she choke when you try to feed him/her.
  • Losing toys. This shows that they’re not able to follow through on tasks.
  • Acting out when they don’t get their way.
  • Difficulty sticking with an activity for more than a few minutes.

For kids ages 6-11:

  • Fidgeting excessively.
  • Acting out or becoming aggressive when they don’t get their way.
  • Losing things that are necessary to complete schoolwork or activities.
  • Distractible.

For teens ages 12-18:

  • Losing focus when they have a task in front of them. Not being able to stay focused on an activity.
  • Finding it difficult to complete work on time. An example of this can be school assignments.
  • Becoming impatient while waiting in line or sitting still during a long lecture at school.
  • Does your child have trouble following instructions?
  • Is your child always in a rush and does he/she change tasks frequently?
  • Does your child have trouble with organization?
  • Is your child forgetful?
  • Do they get easily distracted or do things impulsively?
  • Does your child have a hard time with self-control and does he/she interrupt others frequently?

Helping a Child with ADHD

If you think that your child has ADHD, you need to understand the facts about ADHD. Knowing the signs and symptoms of each one can help you determine if your child does have it or not. You should also know how to spot ADHD at different ages so that you know what to look for.

Finally, you should find out how ADHD is treated and how it affects your child’s life at school or do my child have ADHD as well as in other areas of their life.

It can be hard for parents and caregivers to determine if a child has ADHD. These children seem like “typical kids” who are just over-excited and will not sit still.

However, it is important to keep in mind that children with ADHD do not have the same level of inhibition as other children their age.

Additionally, many parents think that if a child does have ADHD, then he does not need treatment. However, when inattentive symptoms are ignored, this can lead to poor school performance and low self-esteem issues later on.

If you think your child might be struggling with the symptoms of ADHD, they need to see your child’s doctor provide medical advice. There are many symptoms of ADHD in children, but there is no one sign that determines whether or not a child has the condition.

A mental health professional will need to do an evaluation before they can decide if your child has ADHD and needs treatment options.

As a parent, you can help your child with ADHD by working with their teacher and school to see if anything can be done at home to help.

If your child does have ADHD, there are many things that you could try as a parent:

  • More structure and consistency.
  • More frequent discipline and praise.
  • Reinforce long-term goals rather than short-term ones.
  • Create a calm environment at home.
  • Give your child a chance to finish their work before they are able to go on.
  • Allow them to take breaks in between tasks.
  • Provide help with homework.
  • Encourage them to complete their projects or tasks before moving on to something new.
  • Praise them when they are able to complete a task.
  • Provide help with organization skills, which may include keeping up on their belongings and being aware of what they have to do next.
  • Give them a chance to get their thoughts together before discussing the topic at hand.
  • Encourage them to ask questions and take notes when needed.

School Tips for Children with ADHD

Since ADHD is associated with poor school performance, there are several things that can be done to help children with ADHD. One thing you can do is see if the child has dyslexia. This is a kind of disability that does not affect intelligence but it affects how well they perform in school.

If it turns out that the child does have dyslexia, this would be addressed first before any other interventions are attempted. Talk to your child’s teacher or another adult who frequently monitors your child. Inquire about any worries they may have regarding your kid’s conduct and how they interact with other kids.

At home, parents can provide their children with rewards for good behavior and good grades. The child might need extra help with homework.

You could find a tutor or teach the child how to use software programs for homework help. Parents can reward good grades with a trip to the movies, ice cream for dinner, or other things that are age-appropriate.

The child should also be monitored for signs of bullying. If the parents need to, they can talk to school officials about what they are doing to keep their kids safe. The parents might be able to help their child do better in school, even if he or she is feeling anxious.

Most of all, remember that it is important not to compare children with ADHD or any other learning disability to other children. Everyone learns and does things at their own pace, so it is important not to put too much pressure on the child who has ADHD.

When to See a Specialist 

If your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they may have problems in school and social settings. As a result, comprehensive treatment is essential. Your child’s doctor may recommend that they see a number of pediatric, mental health, and educational experts as part of the process.

If you’re concerned about your child and the symptoms of ADHD, then it might be time to speak with a specialist. Our medical staff is here to help. We can provide an evaluation and help you determine if more advanced treatments are needed. Take advantage of our free consultation service today!

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