One of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, attention deficit hyperactive disorder presents in a number of different ways. Many ADHD symptoms in kids, in fact, are simply amplifications of normal childhood behavior – but go beyond the typical too-much-sugar-before-bedtime fireworks, as we will discuss below.

However there are also symptoms in children that appear to run completely counter to the typical, hyperactive expectations of the condition: hyper-focus on certain activities, deep daydreaming, and exceptional creativity.

Whether your child presents with ADHD in the conventional way or exhibits lesser known symptoms, it is important to understand what the condition is, how it might manifest itself, and – above all – how you can support your child to minimize any negative effects. In fact, with the right approach, ADHD in children does not have to get in the way of a happy childhood; with proper support, parts of ADHD can actually become a superpower, helping your child live up to their fullest potential.

What Is It Like To Have ADHD in A Child

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is a chronic neurological condition, which means that many children will continue to have ADHD into adolescence and adulthood. There is no clear understanding of the cause, although scientists believe there are a combination of genetic factors and environmental triggers that result in ADHD.

What does ADHD Look Like in Kids

Many of the signs of ADD in children are similar to the behavior of neurotypical children: excessive movement, trouble controlling emotions, interrupting others, playing loudly, losing focus and not completing tasks. However, in kids with ADHD, these behaviors go beyond what is typically expected for a child their age – and often gets in the way with everyday life.

(For example, a kid with ADHD might constantly interrupt their best friend, provoking fights with them and straining the friendship – whereas a neurotypical friend would learn from the first fight and modify their behavior accordingly.) Kids with ADHD are not ‘acting out’ on purpose; it’s how their brain is wired. As their caregivers, you can learn more about ADHD to be able to support them as they learn to deal with the negative impacts of their symptoms.

Three Types of ADHD in Children

ADHD is a complex condition that can manifest in three different ways. However, just because a child exhibits one type of ADHD does not mean they always will. As symptoms change over time, so too can the type of ADHD they present.

  • Predominantly Inattentive Type: Children with this type of ADHD (which used to be called ADD - attention deficit disorder) will have challenges with task completion. They may struggle with organization, following instructions or listening to conversations. These children will not be detail-oriented but instead, big-picture thinkers (a positive quality they should be encouraged to develop). Daily routines might be difficult for these kids.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: Children with this type of ADHD are in perpetual motion, beyond what is typical. They love to run and climb, while sitting still presents a real struggle for them. They may have trouble letting other people finish their sentence, waiting their turn or following instructions. In addition to the social strain that this may cause them, hyperactive-impulsive children may be more likely to injure themselves physically.
  • Combined Presentation: In this type of ADHD (the most prevalent of the three), symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the child.

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What Kind of Treatment is Best for ADHD?

Once you have a diagnosis, you need to develop a treatment plan alongside trusted professionals, including your family physician, therapist and school district. There are medical and behavioral ways to treat ADHD, each of which have their own benefits and drawbacks. The two approaches may be used in combination and, as your child responds (or fails to respond) to various options, you may find yourself tweaking the different ingredients over time. As long as you have a trusted, collaborative team, you can feel confident that your efforts will lead to a solution that works for your family.

Medical Treatment

After consulting with your doctor, you may decide to try pharmaceutical interventions for your child. One typical class of drugs used for ADHD treatment is known as psychostimulants. These medicines, including Adderall, are used to help children focus more effectively.

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What Kind Of Treatment Is Best For ADHD

Familial Support

With so much focus on your child, don’t forget to take a step back and consider how the process of obtaining and managing the diagnosis impacts you as parents – as well as any other siblings.

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