Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have unique physical, developmental, educational, and social needs. At Nemours, our child behavioral specialists use standard guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and information from people who know your child well like teachers, caregivers, and you to help address ADHD symptoms in children.
Our behavioral health experts use a family-centered, team approach to provide outpatient psychological evaluations, consultations, and other treatments to care for children with ADHD.
ADHD Symptoms in Children
Children with ADHD show signs of hyperactivity and inattention such as:
- constant movement, fidgeting or squirming
- inability to complete tasks
- difficulty playing quietly
- problems with interrupting or intruding on others
- excessive talking
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- medical and pharmacy insurance cards
- preferred pharmacy name and phone number
- names and dosage of all medications, including over-the-counter medication, your child is currently taking
- guardianship and custody papers, if a legal guardian rather than a parent accompanies your child
As a parent, it’s normal for kids to be forgetful every now and then, act impulsively, or even have trouble keeping still. But when these behaviors continue and begin to affect your child at home, school, and with friends, it can signal an attention disorder. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have trouble functioning socially, academically, and at home. At Nemours Children’s Clinic, Lake Mary, our child behavior experts specialize in finding the reasons for your child’s behavior, and offering solutions to help your child get back on track.
What is ADHD in Children? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children is a common behavioral disorder broken down into three subtypes each with its own pattern of behaviors:
- Inattentive type with signs that include:
- inability to pay attention
- difficulty following directions
- difficulty listening
- problems with organization
- tendency to lose things like toys or homework
- difficulty focusing on tasks or play activities
- Hyperactive-impulsive type with signs that include:
- fidgeting or squirming
- difficulty remaining seated
- excessive running or climbing
- difficulty playing quietly
- always seeming to be “on the go”
- excessive talking
- blurting out answers before hearing the full question
- problems interrupting or intruding
- difficulty waiting for a turn or in line
- Combined type: the most common type of ADHD and includes a combination of the inattentive type and the hyperactive-impulsive type
Before making a diagnosis, we recommend that your child has a medical examination, that includes a hearing and vision test, to rule out symptoms that mimic symptoms of ADHD in children. Following the medical exam, you and your child will meet with our mental health experts to begin gathering information about your child.
We’ll conduct a clinical assessment, similar to an interview, which will include screening questionnaires for you, your child’s teacher(s), school and others who may have daily interaction with your child to complete. Also, we may perform psychometric testing that measures IQ and achievement to rule out a learning disability or developmental delay, a process that measures skill development during predictable growth periods in children.
Depending on whether your child is primarily inattentive (the most common) or primarily hyperactive, there are three different types of attention disorders by which your child can be diagnosed:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, predominately hyperactive-impulsive type
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, predominately inattentive-type (also known as ADD)
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, combined-type (most common: combined hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention symptoms of equal significance)
Is it ADHD?
Some of the things we look for in children who may have ADHD include:
- displays behaviors from one of the three subtypes before age 7: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or combined type
- these behaviors must be more severe than in other kids the same age
- the behaviors must last for at least 6 months
- the behaviors must occur in and negatively affect at least two areas of your child’s life: school, home, daycare, or friendships
Although ADHD in children can’t be cured, it is manageable. Our specialists will work with you and your child to develop an individualized treatment plan. We’ll help your child learn to control negative behaviors and make adjustments to become more productive.
Types of treatment we may offer to your child include:
- psycho-education: information about ADHD
- parent training: techniques for managing ADHD symptoms using behavioral strategies that work for your family
- individual cognitive behavioral therapy: tips to help your child and your family learn new behavior patterns for home and school
- medication therapy: assessing whether medications, which may include stimulants and non-stimulants, make sense for your child, who will be monitored closely
- consultation with community providers: including with your child’s primary care doctor, and your child’s school and teacher(s) to offer recommendations to improve his or her ability to manage symptoms in that setting
- pediatric psychologists: licensed mental health professionals with a doctorate degree, and who specialize in the study of childhood development as it relates to behaviors and emotions. While they don’t prescribe medications, they can help monitor the effects of medication therapy on your child.
- pediatric psychiatrists: medical doctors with advanced training in preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental illness. In addition to psychotherapy, a child psychiatrist may prescribe medication therapy when necessary.
- neuropsychologists: mental health professionals with a doctorate degree, who specialize in studying how the brain affects your child’s action and thought.
- social workers: licensed clinical professionals who help children and their families solve and cope with problems. They may diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.
- mental health counselors: skilled licensed professionals who provide psychotherapy support along with problem-solving strategies to produce favorable resolutions.