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Children With ADHD: Symptoms and Diagnosis

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Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD is condition that makes it hard for children to control their behavior. This is one of the more common diagnoses given to children today. Under normal conditions children will exhibit periods of over activity but a child with ADHD this turns into a problem that affects normal daily activity. They will experience persistent inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness that prevent them from completing normal activities such as schoolwork.

It is estimated that somewhere between 4 to 12% of children in school experience this condition. Boys will be diagnosed almost three times more often than girls.

So what are the causes of ADHD? The truth is that with all the research on the subject we still do not have a clear answer to that question. We have learned much about the condition itself though.

  • This is a biological disorder. It is not just a case of bad behavior. In a person with this condition the brain is not able to process important chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
  • In a child with ADHD the parts of the brain which are responsible for attention and activity show lower activity levels.
  • We know that heredity plays a role. We will actually see parents diagnosed with this disorder at the same time that their children are.
  • For some time we believed that environmental pollutants played a role but have learned that this is extremely rare.
  • In some cases head trauma can cause the condition.
  • There is no scientific evidence supporting the belief that it can be caused by consuming too much sugar, allergies or immunization.


A child with ADHD may show a lack of social skills. It may be difficult for them to get along with their peers. Learning may also be hampered in these children if the condition is left untreated. If your child has this condition he or she may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Lack of attention: They will have trouble focusing on certain tasks. It is easy for them to become distracted and disorganized. They will have a tendency to lose things.
  • Hyperactive Behavior: They will seem to be in constant motion. It is difficult for them to sit still and appear to talk too much.
  • Signs of impulsiveness: Shows signs of not being able to wait for things. Speaks out without really thinking about what they want to say. Will often interrupt the conversation of others.


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out with a set of guidelines to help medical professionals diagnose ADHD in children that range from age 6 to 12 years. These guidelines will look at a broad range of functioning.

They will want to evaluate if the symptoms displayed by the child occur in more than one setting. They will look at home life, behavior in school and behavior with other caregivers that spend time with the child.

They will want to know if the symptoms affect the child's ability to learn at school, get along with family members and playmates and the degree that it affects daily activity.

Your doctor will also want to know if any of these symptoms became evident before the age of seven and if they persisted for more than six months.

The process that your pediatrician will take to determine if the child has ADHD will take several steps. This is because at this time there is no proven test to determine if a child has this condition.

In conclusion, a child that exhibits signs that are consistent with ADHD will be affected at school and in other social settings and may have an adverse affect on their lives in general. The only person that will be able to determine if this condition does exist is a trained medical professional. You want to seek out someone who has experience in treating these children and has a proven track record. You may want to start by contacting the AAP to see if they can suggest someone in your area that follows the guidelines that they have set.
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