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How do I know if my child is ADHD?


Livia McCoy has spent twenty-six years teaching science to students with language learning disabilities. In addition to teaching students daily, she trains teachers and runs workshops for teachers and parents who want to know more about how to help their struggling students.

Livia’s book, When Learning is Painful: How to Help Struggling Students -- A Resource for Parents and Teachers was published in 2009.

Children are active and energetic.  At times, it’s hard to tell whether a child’s behavior is normal for a child her age.  The diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) depends on knowing whether the behavior the child is exhibiting is beyond what other children do at that age.
The diagnosis of ADHD is determined by a trained medical professional.  According to LDOnline, “Child psychiatrists and psychologists, developmental/behavioral pediatricians, or behavioral neurologists are those most often trained in … diagnosis [of ADHD].” Your child’s teacher may be the first to mention that your child is beyond the average activity level and has difficulty settling down in school, but most teachers are not trained to make the diagnosis.
Because making the diagnosis is not simple, the professional gathers data from a variety of sources such as parents, teachers, coaches, baby-sitters and the child’s pediatrician.  Stressful events occurring in a child’s life can affect their behavior.  So things like the arrival of a new sibling, a recent death in the family or parents going through divorce must be ruled out.
Once the diagnosis is made, parents need to explore the options for treatment. These should include behavioral modifications and possibly medication.  See How to help my child focus his attention  for ideas for helping ADHD children function better at home and Are You ADHD Friendly? for ideas your child’s teacher should consider.
Do not rule out medications as a possible treatment.  Many students benefit from being able to pay better attention in school and along with the environmental modifications, medication can be quite effective in helping a child regain control of his life.

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