• Mental Health

Diagnosing ADHD in Children



Is your child in constant motion? Does he or she talk incessantly? Or have trouble focusing and prefer to daydream?

Then your child may have attention deficit , or .

This childhood disorder often begins between the ages of 3 and 6 years, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). And it may continue through the teenage years and into adulthood.

  • Three types of ADHD are recognized:
  • inattentive (trouble focusing, following instructions, and finishing tasks)
  • hyperactive-impulsive (constantly on the go, talking excessively, and interrupting others)
  • combined (symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity)

Studies show that the number of being diagnosed with ADHD is increasing, and boys are more than twice as likely as girls to have it. According to the CDC, as of 2007, about 9.5% of 4 to 17 years old have at one time been diagnosed with ADHD.

The increase may be due to a greater public awareness of the disorder and psychiatric illnesses in general. And boys are more likely to have the hyperactive-impulsive type, which is easier to spot than the quieter child who is inattentive.

Parents aren’t always aware of their child’s ADHD until a teacher or other person outside the family suggests that the child may have it. An educator may see that a child is fidgety, has problems focusing, and blurts out answers, and they have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to keep the child still and focus the child’s attention.

There is no single test to determine if a person has ADHD. A health care professional makes the by comparing a person’s pattern of behavior against a set of criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association. If you suspect your child might have ADHD, see your family doctor or . Your child’s vision, hearing, and anything else that may contribute to inattention should be checked. The doctor may diagnose ADHD or refer your child to a mental health specialist for evaluation.