Diagnosing ADHD in children

Steps to ADHD diagnosis in children

A teacher is often the first person to recognise a child is hyperactive, inattentive, and/or impulsive. Fortunately, teachers understand how a child should behave in situations requiring concentration and self-control. They not only see how a child acts during lessons but also how the child acts at recess or when interacting with peers. They may notice the child:

  • Is easily distracted
  • Turns in homework that is poorly organised, contains careless errors, and is often incomplete
  • Blurts out answers in class before a question is complete
  • Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn during games
  • Is often out of his or her seat

If there are persistent symptoms suggestive of ADHD, the teacher may contact the parents or guardians to meet and discuss what he or she is seeing. These discussions help teachers, parents, and guardians agree on a plan for what to do if the behaviour continues.

There is no quick and simple test to confirm ADHD. If you are a parent or guardian and have noticed or been told by a teacher that your child is showing symptoms of ADHD, speak to his or her GP. Diagnosis can be a lengthy process, so be prepared to answer questions about family history and write down as much as you can about the child’s behaviour at home and school with evidence for both if possible: when the symptoms started, and whether the child has any other health conditions. Keep in mind that the symptoms must meet these criteria:

  • Have been present for at least six months
  • Have started before the age of 12
  • Be present in two or more places, such as at school and in the home
  • Negatively affect day to day life
  • Not occur solely due to a psychotic condition
  • Not be better explained by another mental condition

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