When parents and others are gathered around small children at play, it is not uncommon to hear phrases such as, “I wish I had that much energy!” or, “If we could bottle all of that energy, we could make a fortune!” Young kids have a lot of energy, and they are interested in almost everything, so they energetically flit from one thing to the next to the next. In this day and age when it seems like half of the people you know have a child with ADHD, you may wonder if your busy child should be tested for ADHD, too.
I would venture to guess that most of us mothers with young children have been certain, at one time or another, that our little whirlwind must have ADHD. After all, it seems like he never stopped moving all day, and while he moved, he never stopped talking! That simply cannot be normal. Well, sure it can be. There are many, very busy, little chatterboxes who do not have ADHD. So, when should you have your child tested for ADHD?
To begin, a child with ADHD must show difficulties in at least two different settings. For example, he must have problems at home and at daycare, or at home and at school. If he is an angel at school, then becomes the Tazmanian devil at home, then he probably does not have ADHD. Kids with ADHD have difficulty with attention. That means that they have a very hard time focusing on the task at hand, and following directions. They may be in the middle of something when something else catches their eye and off they go. Now, this is not uncommon among young children, but if the child does not gain the ability to focus and stay on task over time, he may have an attention deficit.
Kids with ADHD also are impulsive. Because of this impulsive nature, they may get into more trouble at home, and at school, than another child would. Does he repeatedly fail to follow the rules, or does he have a very hard time keeping quiet when that is required? Does he say things that get him into trouble when he should know better? Is his impulsiveness causing problems with his friends, with his work at school, and at home?
Children with ADHD are also hyperactive. There are children who just have attention problems without hyperactivity, and that is ADD, but with ADHD, the child cannot hold still. That makes circle time at school impossible, or getting homework done at home very hard. The child seems driven, and you keep hoping to find an off button, but there is none. Even when sitting, kids with ADHD are fidgety, shaking their feet, or wiggling their hands. Does all of this activity create difficulties in the home setting, and at school? Is he falling behind at school, or a terror be around at home?
If the description above sounds like your child, then you may want to have him tested for ADHD, especially if it runs in the family. Talk to your child’s teacher to see if she is noticing problems, and consult with your child’s doctor if his behavior has become a concern with you. No parent wants their child labeled, but on the other hand, if your child is struggling, the sooner that you get help, the better the outcome for him, and your whole family.
Christina Breda Antonaides
When to Test for ADHD