It's not unusual for parents to have conflicts with their children about finishing homework, following instructions, or not listening. High levels of physical activity, the inability to sit still, and a lack of focus are also common parental complaints. If you're worried about your child, perhaps the first thing to think about is how often and for how long these behaviors occur.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a persistent pattern of behavior that lasts at least six months. Children with ADHD may show abnormally high levels of physical activity (hyperactivity) and an inability to control their impulses, pay attention, focus, or complete tasks. A pattern usually begins before age 7, although the disorder may be diagnosed at a much later date.
ADHD is one of the most common problems involving behavior and brain function. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 7 percent of children ages 3 to 17 are affected (about 4.5 million in 2006). But less than half of them actually receive a diagnosis of ADHD. When not properly diagnosed and managed, ADHD can have damaging effects on children and their families.
Some children and teenagers have only mild ADHD symptoms while others are severely affected. In general, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, perhaps because they are prone to act out and exhibit hyperactivity, while girls with ADHD are more likely to be perceived as simply inattentive (daydreaming, forgetful, easily distracted). Boys and girls with ADHD are more likely than other children to underachieve at school, have low self-esteem, and develop emotional and social problems.
In our survey, personal concerns about their child's behavior and/or academic performance were the major reasons that 65 percent of the parents sought professional help. A recommendation from someone at school, such as a teacher or school nurse, was a starting point for 39 percent of the parents, and a doctor's recommendation motivated 17 percent.
|What led you to seek help from a medical or mental health professional for your child's ADHD?*
|I felt my child needed help because of his/her behavior and/or academic performance
|Someone at school recommended getting help (e.g., teacher, school nurse)
|My child is gifted and was not performing as expected academically
|I felt my child could benefit from extra time or accommodations during standardized testing