There are three types of ADHD, although the term is the same for all. The first is comprised of hyperactivity and impulsivity. The second is one of inattentiveness. And the third combines the above two sets of symptoms. It is important to realize that any set of symptoms must be reflected in at least two environments for the red flags to be raised! How are these symptoms exhibited in the two environments of school and home? Let’s look at each of them.
The school environment is difficult because of so many reasons: demands to physically pay attention, to sit, to meet academic expectations within a timely manner, to get along with peers, to wait until you are called on, to stay organized, and get to class on time. So what is it that you might see if the impairments of ADHD exist:
• Inability to get class work done
• Wandering about in class room (early years)
• Blurting out comments, answers
• Inconsistent quality and quantity of work
• Not handing in assignments
• Disorganization that promotes no knowledge of assignments, loss of papers
• Difficulty with peer relationships
• Boredom…a physiological boredom that for them is difficult to overcome
The home environment is difficult because of reasons like: expectations of the parent in areas of chores and good grades, difficulty getting along with siblings, mental and physical fatigue from school, low self-esteem due to interactions that we many times do not know about, a homework expectation that is not understood, and the need to move, exercise. So what is it that you could see at home:
• Not initiating homework
• Difficulty focusing and sustaining the focus to do homework/taking longer than district HW policy
• Not understanding directions to follow through on homework
• Unable to follow through on a three step order
• Unable to break down pieces of a project (time management in an older child)
• Reading and comprehension difficult.
• Possible oppositional behavior
• Arguing with siblings
So in both environments, behaviors show some ADHD symptoms in different ways. You, as the parent, can document these that are impairing both social and academic success. With communication with the school, you can confirm that there are behaviors that too are affecting your child’s success.
Remember, ADHD is a medical diagnosis so that the school would be unable to diagnosis unless there was a psychologist on the child study team who is familiar with ADHD and the diagnostic procedure. For a private evaluation, the professionals that can diagnose are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, neurologists, and developmental pediatricians. Remember, it is vital that you find someone who has knowledge of the DSM, the psychiatric diagnostic statistical manual that is the bible of appropriate diagnosis follow through. This diagnosis becomes difficult in that in the majority of those diagnosed with ADHD, there is at least one co-existing condition that may or may not be evident early on in the diagnosis. They include depression, anxiety, bipolar, learning disability, and tics. It is important that the main diagnosis of ADHD is found ahead of the co-existing disorder for effective treatment.
Early diagnosis means early treatment and the beginning of understanding ADHD and its effects. As a result, our children will have a healthy self-esteem and the ability to self-advocate.