Child Symptoms


Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and their families can benefit greatly from therapeutic interventions, including Behavioral Therapy (BT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), environment modifications, and education. Parenting strategies and groups are often incorporated into the treatment plan. Symptoms of ADHD in children usually present differently than they do in adults or older adolescents. Children tend to more often display with the classical symptoms; failure to pay attention/listen, lack of follow-through, organizational difficulties, misplacing items, forgetfulness, often interrupting others, and excessive movement, talking, and distractibility; however, the symptoms often vary from individual to individual. Therapeutic strategies used for children with ADHD can differ greatly from those used on Neurotypical (NT) children or children with other disorders. Some parents have probably already noticed that using common disciplinary strategies do not seem to work well, and may even seem to make matters worse.


Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD are frequently diagnosed when they start school, because they often have trouble following the rules in the new and more structured settings. With the hyperactive/impulsive type, parents oftentimes report that their children had a great deal of energy and were always on the move prior to attending school. On the other hand, children with ADHD who do not have the hyperactive or impulsivity symptoms tend to be noticed much later than those who are also hyper and impulsive, mainly because these children are less likely to cause the same amount of distractions and/or disruptions. Unfortunately, this can lead to children who are not identified in a timely manner or at all, at times mislabeling them as underachievers, mischievous, or having low intelligence.


It is important to note that most children diagnosed with ADHD have an average to above average intelligence quotient (IQ). Unfortunately, most children with the disorder have educational difficulties, even those with high IQs. As with adolescents, children who are struggling in school due to ADHD symptoms need the support of their schools, regardless of IQ status. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) assures that children who struggle with mental health issues, and other disabilities, that negatively impact their educations are given the necessary resources to help them better succeed.


ADHD with hyperactivity/impulsivity has been found to be much more common in boys than girls (3 to 1), while the disorder without the hyperactivity and impulsivity is more equally distributed among genders. Some of the co-existing problems reported among children are; Learning Disorders, Mood Disorders (including Depression), and Anxiety Disorders. There are also higher levels of Oppositional Defiant Disorder found in children diagnosed with ADHD.


As with adolescents, it is important that parents and other key family members are engaged in the child’s treatment. It is not uncommon that one or both parents have ADHD symptoms as well, due to the strong genetic component. When the parents or other family members also have ADHD symptoms, or any other mental health disorder for that matter, it is in the family’s best interest to address all the family members’ challenges. Failing to address the other family members needs can have a negative impact on treatment outcomes.