Recognizing ADHD in children

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As kids watch their last few days of summer vacation slowly slip away, their parents are preparing them for a return to the classroom. Some kids can't wait to get back to school, where they can continue their studies and spend time with their friends. Others, though, might not look forward to new schoolwork, and that might be because of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

ADHD is a common condition in which children experience problems with paying attention or concentrating. Such problems can make it difficult for kids to excel in the classroom. Many children have ADHD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 3 to 5 percent of children have ADHD, while other experts feel ADHD occurs in as many as 10 percent of school-aged children.

Because it's so prevalent, ADHD is a concern for many parents, who want their children to enter the classroom on an even playing field. Parents who suspect their children have difficulty paying attention or concentrating can look for certain warning signs or symptoms of ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD in children are grouped into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Inattention will often not be noticeable until a child enters a school environment. A child with ADHD will:

- exhibit a tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities
- frequently shift from one uncompleted activity to another
- procrastinate
- struggle to finish schoolwork or perform tasks that require concentration- be distracted by irrelevant stimuli.

Hyperactivity symptoms can manifest themselves rather early and are almost always present before a child reaches his or her seventh birthday. Symptoms of hyperactivity include:

- fidgeting or squirming when seated
- frequently getting up to walk around
- running or climbing excessively when it's inappropriate- talking excessively

Impulsivity can lead to accidents, be it knocking objects over or banging into people. Impulsive children may also engage in dangerous activities without considering the consequences. Symptoms may include:

- impatience
- difficulty delaying responses
- difficulty awaiting one's turn
- initiating conversations at inappropriate times- frequently interrupting or intruding on others

Parents who want more information on ADHD can visit www.nimh.nih.gov

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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