Diagnosing ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD is not only somewhat controversial in today’s culture, but also not black and white by any means. Attention deficit disorder in children, also referred to as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, refers to children who often have difficulty focusing their attention, listening, remembering things, staying still, and/or waiting their turn.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Addition, DSM-IV, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a “persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.” Some of the symptoms must have been present in the child prior to age seven, and some must be present in at least two settings (e.g. at home and at school). Therefore, before concluding that your child has AD/HD, parents need to consult a qualified professional.

Many parents feel that their child has ADHD, when in fact they do not. Having an attentional issue does not mean that your child has ADHD or even ADD. In fact, most people have trouble staying focused on what they are doing if the phone rings, if people are talking nearby, if traffic is rushing past the window, or if music is playing; many sounds or events can distract any person from their work. When this happens, most people may find themselves reading entire pages without having any idea what they just read. Not a clue!

If this happens to your child, it does not mean that she automatically has an attentional disorder. Actually, not only is this type of distractibility normal, it is common. In fact, it is one of the most common problems kids have when they finally sit down to study.

However, if your child is continually distracted, by even the smallest stimuli, he may have ADD. If this is accompanied by excessive activity, then he may have ADHD (an attentional problem along with hyperactivity). In either case, discuss this with your pediatrician who may treat your child, or may refer you to a neurologist or a psychiatrist. And don’t be alarmed if your child is diagnosed with ADHD or with some form of an attention deficit disorder. There are many famous people diagnosed with ADHD, and they obviously became quite successful in life even with their attentional difficulties.

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