Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children can create 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
ADHD in children causes 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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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 affect home life, school work and social interactions, it can signal ADHD in children.
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have trouble functioning socially, academically and at home. At Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, our child behavior experts specialize in finding the reasons for your child’s behavior, and offering solutions to help manage ADHD in children.
ADHD used to be referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In 1994, it was renamed ADHD and now includes three subtypes:
- a predominantly inattentive type (ADHD Inattentive)
- a predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type (ADHD Hyperactive-Impulsive)
- a combined type (ADHD Combined) for children with problems with both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity
With proper diagnosis and early treatment, our experts can help your child learn strategies to cope and adapt even with these challenges.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children is a common behavioral disorder broken down into three subtypes each with its own pattern of behavior:
- 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 with maintaining 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 may include screening questionnaires for you, your child’s teacher, 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 times.
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 functioning at school, home, daycare, or friendships
- we’ll also consider conditions that may resemble ADHD such as behavior disorders, anxiety, and mood disorders
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.
We provide services including outpatient consultation, comprehensive evaluation, and parent-based training. We use a family-centered approach to help your child and your family understand the disorder and focus on strategies to reinforce consistency.
Types of treatment we offer to help manage ADHD in children include:
- psycho-education: provides parents with information and resources on ADHD and similar conditions, including the impact of ADHD on a child’s functioning over the course of their development.
- parent training: parent-based therapy that provides parents with information on practices proven to reduce misbehavior and increase compliance in children with ADHD.
- medication therapy: include stimulants and non-stimulant medications that must be monitored closely.
- consultation with community providers: including your child’s primary care doctor, and your child’s school and teachers.
- pediatric psychologists: licensed mental health professionals with a doctoral degree, and who specialize in the study of childhood development as it relates to behaviors and emotions. Psychologists do not prescribe medications, but provide therapeutic intervention including behavioral modification, social skills training, and parent training to help manage the common behavioral, emotional, and social challenges that occur with ADHD.
- 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.