What is ADHD? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurological disorder that is characterized by developmentally inappropriate hyperactivity, inattention, or impulsivity. It is believed that children with ADHD have an impairment in the brain’s executive functions which affect the way they learn, store, and retrieve information. ADHD is suspected when a child’s behavior in class is problematic. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of ADHD.
There are 3 types of behavior involved in ADHD – inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. All young kids occasionally become hyper or are unable to pay attention to their teachers. Thus, children are only diagnosed with ADHD when their behavior is more extreme compared to other kids their age.
The symptoms of ADHD can be divided into 2 groups – inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive. While some kids only exhibit either of the two, a majority of children with ADHD exhibit a combination of both, making it difficult for them to function in school.
Below is a list of behaviors that can be observed in a child with ADHD:
• Easily distracted or sidetracked
• Has difficulty following instructions
• Doesn’t listen when spoken to directly
• Makes careless mistakes
• Often fails to finish schoolwork
• Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort
• Often loses homework, backpacks, books, etc.
• Has trouble staying in his seat
• Extremely impatient (cannot wait for his turn)
• Talks excessively
• Blurts out answers even before a question is completed
• Interrupts/intrudes on people’s conversations, activities, or possessions
• Often fidgets or squirms
• Runs and climbs where it is inappropriate
• Finds it hard to play quietly
• Always seems to be “on the go”
• Serious impairment
Keep in mind that not every impulsive or high energy child has ADHD. Children are only diagnosed with ADHD if they demonstrate these symptoms often enough to cause difficulty in at least 2 settings (school and home). In addition, the pattern should persist for at least 6 months.
Despite overwhelming scientific research, some parents can’t accept that their child has ADHD. Instead, they see the behavior as a result of other factors. All children can be hyper, distracted and unable to focus at times, but kids with ADHD aren’t just being boisterous kids. Many children with this condition show symptoms even before they reach school age. But it is in a school setting, when they’re having difficulty meeting expectations, that many are referred for diagnosis.
But these behaviors can also be a result of other factors, such as anxiety or trauma. For this reason, it is important for teachers to be aware what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder looks like in the classroom. Observation is especially important when children are too young to articulate what they’re feeling.
Left unsupported, children with ADHD may experience a negative impact on their academic performance, wellbeing and opportunities later in life. This is why ADHD merits special attention when considering behavior management strategies.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that educators cannot and should not “diagnose” a student or assume a student has ADHD. What teachers can do are to observe the symptoms of ADHD, talk to the parents, and support students with these systems in the classroom. For support strategies, checkout our webinar on Supporting Mental Health Needs in Schools.
INcompassing Education provides on-site professional development for educators in Indiana, off-site PD through seminars, and online PD through our Lounge and Learn training materials and videos. We cover a wide variety of topics, including Mental Health and ADHD. Sign-up for our webinar series on Supporting Mental Health in Schools.