October is ADHD awareness month. Like Autism, it is kind of mysterious and a little confusing and like Autism, there is a spectrum for the disorder. There are varying degrees to which a child may have it and this can leave doctors, teachers, and parents doubting a diagnosis.
I recently read an article about how Autism can affect children differently depending on whether they are an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert. The same can be true of ADHD as different kids have different personalities and I did read somewhere that many times a child who is an introvert and has ADHD will be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. So, to try to help clear up some of this confusion around this disorder I am going to name 8 things to know about ADHD:
- Lack of Focus: This one is the most confusing. The standard criteria for this is jumping from one task to the next without completing the first task. However, some kids are over focused. This means they can spend hours obsessing over one thing to the point where they won’t do anything else. This includes eating and going to the bathroom. Conner does both of these. He almost never completes a task because he gets so easily distracted. I literally have to stand over him and watch him do the task until it is done. On the other hand, he can spend hours playing Minecraft and he will forget to go to the bathroom. I have to be vigilant with him on this.
- Easily Distracted: As I mentioned, they have a tendency to jump from one task to another, never completing the first task. This can also make them very forgetful. I sometimes have to repeat directions to Conner 4 or 5 times, which can lead to frustration on my part because I hate repeating myself.
- Fidgeting: Even when Conner is sitting at his computer playing Minecraft, he can’t sit still. Some part of his body has to be constantly moving, whether it’s his feet, legs, or rocking in his chair. He also has to get up after a while and walk around the house. Climbing on things like couches after you’ve told them a million times not to. The climbing is the fidgeting while doing something inappropriate is the inattention.
- Talking Excessively: Conner does this A LOT! Those times when he’s walking around, he is talking someone’s ear off. He has a million different stories and thoughts going on in his little head. He simply can’t contain all of them. It’s like his brain is a non-stop bullet train that can’t slow down for one second so in order for him to release some that he has to talk. This is both Hyperactivity and Impulsivity because he will talk without understanding that I am in the middle of a conversation.
- Impatience: Like I said in #4, he can’t wait to talk. Well, he can but it’s really hard for him. When Conner has to wait to talk to me, he will literally pace the room and whisper to himself until I am done.
- Interruption: Just like impatience, I can’t read a story to Conner without him interrupting with his own version of the story at least 5 times before the story is finished. I have to constantly remind him to wait until I’m finished.
- Co-existing Conditions: Did you know that in two thirds of children diagnosed with ADHD also have a co-existing condition? These can be a range of disorders from Sleep disorders to Tourette’s Syndrome to Bi-polar, to Autism. Conner, for example has tics. This is a symptom of Tourette’s and I have brought this up to his pediatrician. Conner was also diagnosed with a mild Anxiety disorder but the symptoms of it have decreased over the years. If you want more information on this you can go CHADD where you can find these and other co-existing conditions.
- Lack of Social Cues: Kids with ADHD can function socially pretty well but they do have a tendency to forget certain social cues or be “clueless” when someone they are talking to is bored or not interested in what they are talking about. When Conner was little he would insist that children play what he wanted to play. This sometimes caused other kids to not want to play with him. He does the same with conversations. He doesn’t understand compromise.
I hope this has helped someone out there to better understand ADHD and how it works in our children. While all of these are normal in all children, in kids with ADHD, it is excessive. That’s the thing you have to remember.
Thanks so much for reading!
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