Diagnoses of ADHD have become more frequent in both children and adults. But symptoms show differently across age groups.
Identifying a child’s ADHD early may be helpful. It can allow them to start developing healthy habits to manage it. This can lead to greater success in school. How ADHD is addressed in a child may impact how they experience ADHD as an adult.
Some experts say ADHD can be diagnosed in children as early as age 4. Studies show children have higher chances of being diagnosed by their teens if they show signs of ADHD as children. The CDC reports that as of 2016, about 9.4% of children ages 2-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. As children get older, they may have a higher chance of receiving a diagnosis. Data show almost 2 of 3 kids with ADHD have another mental health or behavior issue. Common issues that can affect children with ADHD include:
ADHD symptoms are split into the categories “inattentive” and “hyperactive.” Children may show symptoms from one or both of these categories.
- Hard time focusing
- Easily distracted
- Forgets or misplaces things
- Difficulty following instructions
- High energy, may fidget
- Talks often, may have difficulty waiting or taking turns
- Difficulty staying in chair or sitting still
- Trouble maintaining “indoor voice”
Children with ADHD may or may not show disruptive behavior in school. They could also have trouble learning. Most children are rambunctious. But a child with ADHD may be more impulsive and disruptive than their peers.
If ADHD is not addressed in a timely manner, difficulty focusing may cause children to fall behind in school. They may also be impacted socially. Their hyperactive or disruptive behavior could cause them to have a hard time making friends. Teachers who do not understand the child’s needs may label them as a “troublemaker.” This can further alienate them from their peer group. Seek out understanding educators and counselors. This may help your child grow skills to help them succeed with relationships and school.
There are many approaches to treating ADHD in kids. Approaches such as play therapy and parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) may help. They can teach children to manage inattentive and hyperactive behaviors. Other strategies that can help children with ADHD succeed include using a planner, reward chart, or checklist. These tools can help children learn organization skills. They can also keep children motivated to stay on task.
A psychiatrist may also prescribe medication for ADHD. The may do this if the issue persists. Children may be prescribed a stimulant medication. Stimulants may help organize thought processes.
Nearly two-thirds of American children with ADHD will also have it as adults. Almost half of these adults have never been diagnosed with ADHD. Many of them have not received treatment for their symptoms. Only about 25% end up seeking help. Hyperactive symptoms are often less prevalent in adulthood. But symptoms of inattention and impulsivity often persist.
About half of adults who have ADHD also have some form of anxiety. These adults often experience difficulty in their daily lives. This is because the combination of ADHD and anxiety symptoms can lead to impaired function. Overlapping symptoms can also make it less likely for an adult who seeks treatment to get the right diagnosis.
ADHD symptoms in adulthood may show in different ways than they did in childhood. ADHD can affect relationships and success in the workplace. Symptoms can lead to missed deadlines and forgotten social engagements. They can include:
- Mood swings
- Short temper
- Difficulty coping with stress
- Hard time focusing on tasks or prioritizing activities
Treatment of ADHD in adults is generally the same as it is in children. Medication might be prescribed along with therapy. The condition can also be treated without medication. Family or relationship counseling may also help when ADHD affects loved ones or family members.
- Adult ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). (2013, March 7). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/basics/definition/con-20034552
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Data and statistics. (2018, March 20). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
- Miller, C. (n.d.). Behavioral treatments for kids with ADHD. Retrieved from https://childmind.org/article/behavioral-treatments-kids-adhd
- Preschoolers and ADHD. (n.d.). CHADD. Retrieved from http://www.chadd.org/understanding-adhd/for-parents-caregivers/preschoolers-and-adhd.aspx