Children who struggle with overactivity, following instructions, or paying attention in class are often labelled as troublemakers. In reality, many of these children have a neurological condition called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — a condition that prevents them from thriving in school. 

Let’s unpack the signs and behaviours of ADHD, before discussing how early diagnosis and intervention can help children manage its effects.  

What is ADHD and Who Does it Affect? 

Like many other learning challenges, researchers haven’t discovered the cause of ADHD. Despite this, we do know that ADHD affects the nervous system and brain. While a person’s experience of ADHD can change over time, children do not outgrow the condition. All people with ADHD belong to one of three types:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation — people with ADHD of this type find it difficult to follow instructions, finish tasks and pay attention to details or conversations. They are easily distracted and often forget details. 

  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation — these individuals feel restless and struggle to sit for too long. They are prone to impulsivity and may fidget, interrupt others, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times.

  • Combined Presentation — those with Combined Presentation experience symptoms of the above two types of ADHD, including hyperactivity and impulsiveness. 

ADHD can affect all children but it is much more prevalent among boys. The condition is so common that up to 7% of children have ADHD — according to research published in the psychiatry journal, The Lancet

While the causes of ADHD aren’t fully understood, its symptoms can be clearly observed and diagnosed in children as young as four years old.

What Are the SIgns and Symptoms of ADHD in Children?

While it is often called a disorder, ADHD is more accurately viewed as a learning challenge. In fact, many people with ADHD report benefits to having the condition, including enhanced creativity, enthusiasm and being able to hyperfocus on tasks that interest them. 

Despite these strengths, the symptoms of ADHD are not favourable for mainstream schooling environments, where success depends on paying attention and controlling your behaviour. Here’s a list of symptoms in children according to the type of ADHD:

Children with Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD

  • Often talk excessively
  • Fidgety or constantly tapping hands and feet
  • Are unable to work or silently engage in leisure activities 
  • Often feel restless or move about in situations where it is inappropriate
  • Blurt out answers before a question has been completed
  • Have difficulty waiting for their turn
  • Interrupt conversations or activities
  • Unable to remain seated even when necessary
  • Take over what others are doing without permission

Children with Predominantly Inattentive ADHD

  • Have difficulty concentrating on tasks and activities
  • May not seem to be listening when spoken to directly; appear to be distracted or daydreaming
  • Easily distracted by unimportant stimuli
  • Often do not follow through on instructions 
  • Fail to finish work or chores, or may start tasks but quickly lose focus and are easily distracted
  • Do not pay close attention to details, or make careless mistakes
  • Have difficulty organising tasks and activities, are messy, disorganised, or have poor time management
  • Avoid tasks requiring sustained mental effort
  • Often lose things, or are forgetful in daily life

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Child Has ADHD?

If you recognise some of the above ADHD symptoms in your child, then consider seeking a professional diagnosis. This is because children with ADHD who aren’t given the right support frequently have troubled school careers. 

Along with low academic achievement, the symptoms of ADHD affect mental and emotional well-being. People with ADHD are prone to low self-esteem, depression and anxiety — as revealed by studies published in The Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and Sustainability. Children with the condition are also likely to develop antisocial and disciplinary problems. 

From behavioural problems manifesting from low self-worth to poor school performance, untreated ADHD can also impact a child’s ability to succeed beyond school. As a study published in The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics shows, people with ADHD are more likely to experience “lower employment rates, worse jobs, lower earnings if employed, and lower expected earnings overall.”

Fortunately, psychologists and educational specialists have developed early intervention programmes that give children the tools to thrive both in and out of school. These tools put children on a path to success, so that they benefit from the strengths of ADHD while minimising the drawbacks. But the first step is to have your child diagnosed by an expert.  

Securing an Expert ADHD Diagnosis in Singapore

With a referral, you should be able to see an ADHD specialist at a public health facility such as the Institute of Mental Health.

A faster path to accessing an ADHD assessment is to visit a private facility. Many facilities offer both assessments and early intervention programmes that have been developed by qualified developmental specialists. 

At Thomson Kids, our specialists provide internationally recognised ADHD assessments. Once a diagnosis has been made, our team will work with you to help you understand your child’s condition. We will then recommend an intervention programme that is best suited to helping your child cope both in and out of the classroom. 

Want to learn more about ADHD assessments and early interventions? Chat to one of our experts.

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