Could Your Child have ADHD?

Not sure if your child’s inattention and hyperactivity are symptoms of ADHD? MH speaks to the experts to find out more about this disorder.

WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI

 

Have you noticed your child having difficulty remaining focused, or is he constantly on the move, unable to sit still? Inattention and hyperactivity are two primary features of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder typically diagnosed in childhood. We spoke to Dr Lim Boon Leng, psychiatrist from Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, Dr Penny Tok, chartered child psychologist from Dr Penny Tok Psychology Practice, and Jeanie Chu, clinical psychologist from The Resilienz Clinic, about what you need to know regarding ADHD.

 

Look Out for These Symptoms

 

There are three different types of ADHD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, and combined type, meaning the child displays symptoms of the first two ADHD types. The symptoms of ADHD generally appear before the age of seven.

 

Our three experts highlight the following symptoms of the predominantly inattentive type:

  • Easily distracted
  • Trouble staying focused/Difficulty in paying attention (“It is however pertinent to note that ADHD children can concentrate if they find something interesting,” says Dr Lim, “but their symptoms are particularly pronounced when they are bored.”)
  • Forgetful
  • Difficulty with organisation and planning
  • Frequently misplace or lose things such as homework, toys, books etc.
  • Appears to not be listening or in a dream-like state
  • Difficulty in following instructions
  • Unable to stay on or complete tasks and activities

 

For children who fall under the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, our experts outline the following symptoms:

  • Restless; constantly fidgeting/squirming, has difficulty staying seated
  • Constantly moving around; being always on-the-go, unable to play quietly
  • Talks excessively and blurts out answers before listening to questions in full
  • Difficulty with self-control
  • Tendency to disrupt or interrupt activities in class
  • Requires instant gratification
  • Excessive displays of anger, and lower tolerance for frustration

 

Is It ADHD or “Normal” Kid Behaviour?

 

Young children, in general, can be inattentive and hyperactive from time to time, so how do you know if your child’s behaviour is “normal” or indicative of ADHD? One way to determine this, according to Dr Tok, is to rule out other obvious causes for your child’s behaviour, such as dietary reasons (allergies, food sensitivities, intolerances etc.), reactions to stressful events, or poor sleep.

 

 

If you have ruled out other possible causes, see if your child’s symptoms are

present in two or more settings, for example, at home and in school.

 

 

Dr Tok recommends checking in with your child’s teacher to find out how your child behaves in school. “As your child’s teacher works with many different children, they are often a reliable source of information as they have a good sense as to what is typical and what is not,” she says. If your child’s symptoms only appear in a particular setting, then they are not likely an indication of ADHD.

               

Dr Tok also emphasises that the symptoms of ADHD tend to present themselves throughout a child’s development, instead of appearing out of the blue. However, the ADHD behaviour may manifest itself in different symptoms during the child’s developmental period, and their intensity may change over time.

               

You can also determine if your child’s symptoms signify ADHD or simply “normal” kid behaviour by checking if his behaviour is resulting in any dysfunction across different settings, says Dr Lim. For example, your child’s behaviour might be affecting his school performance. “If the behaviour is not causing too much dysfunction at home or in school, it may be prudent to continue observing the symptoms,” he advises.

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