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ADHD, It’s Not What You Think It Is

November 5, 2015

ADHD symptoms in childrenThe term ADHD generally conjures an image of the boy in the classroom who gets into trouble and can’t keep his hands to himself. While there’s no denying that there are children with ADHD that fit the stereotype, many more do not. In fact, in recent years researchers now understand that ADHD is not a behavior problem. Rather, ADHD is a difficulty managing the complex systems of the brain that are needed to work and manage time efficiently.

Common ADHD Symptoms in Children

One consistent characteristic of students with ADHD is that they can’t effectively maintain attention for something they aren’t interested in. However, contrary to popular understanding, they can easily maintain lengthy interest in activities they enjoy.

Dispelling stereotypes and recognizing ADHD symptoms in children are just two of the many topics addressed in a one hour video from Understood.org, “ADHD Understood: Science, Skillbuilding, Success”. The video features a discussion with Thomas E. Brown, associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders at Yale School of Medicine, and Ellen Galinsky, co-founder of Families and Work Institute and a child development researcher. The video is moderated by best-selling children’s author, Andrea Davis Pinkney, herself a parent of two children with ADHD. 

If you don’t have time to watch this video on ADHD, you can takeaway the following key points:

  • Children with ADHD have great difficulty  staying focused on an activity for which they have limited interest. They need help.
  • Students with ADHD can maintain sustained focus for activities they have great interest in.
  • ADHD has no relationship to intelligence or ability.
  • ADHD is not a behavior problem. However, students with untreated ADHD might behave inappropriately at times if they don’t know how to cope.
  • ADHD is a problem with effectively managing and controlling learning, social and emotional functions.
  • Everyone has characteristics of ADHD. It’s all a matter of degree.
  • ADHD can be managed effectively when students have coping strategies. A good diet, exercise, and plenty of sleep also help.
  • Most students with ADHD can be helped with medication. ADHD medications have improved in recent years, and the concerns about “zombie-like” behavior should no longer apply. ADHD medication does not cure, but it can be an effective tool.
  • And…the best way to support a child with ADHD is to focus on your child’s strengths, rather than what they can’t do. It will make for a happier, more self-confident child who can excel.

What should I do if my child might have ADHD?

If you are concerned that you have a child struggling with undiagnosed ADHD and want to take the next step, consider asking for an observation at school or discussing your concerns with your pediatrician. The Mindprint assessment includes a sub-test of attention that parents have found to be an objective, confidential indicator of whether their child has an attention problem.

We know that first step can be tough, which is why we’ve asked other parents to share their stories. Read the first post in our Empowering Parents series. This mom shares her relief after trying to learn more about her daughter’s “notoriously slow pace.”


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