EXPERT ADVICE: Does my child have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Is your child easily distracted and has difficulty focusing? Learn whether these are signs that he has ADHD.

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Your child may seem super-active, easily distracted, a constant bundle of energy, or perhaps he’s an incessantly fast talker.

It’s easy to label him as hyperactive. Some well-meaning relatives or friends may have even asked you, does he have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Here are symptoms of the condition:

·         Does not listen or focus.

·         Has trouble playing quietly or waiting for his turn while playing.

·         Has trouble completing a task.

·         Fidgets and squirms.

·         Talks excessively.

·         Has problems remembering things and following instructions.

·         Interrupts and disrupts conversations.

·         Unable to keep emotions in check.

·         Often stares into space or daydreams.

Most symptoms are only observed when they are of school appropriate age, in a natural school setting.”

But before you go self-diagnosing your child, know that it’s important to seek a professional diagnosis and early intervention, if necessary.

SmartParents gets details on ADHD from Alex Liau, clinical director, and therapist Hazirah Adilah Sahal of Nurture Pods, an early intervention centre.

How can you tell whether a child has ADHD, or whether he is merely being playful or hyperactive?
A diagnosis depends on the symptoms that have occurred in the course of the past six months. This way, you’ll know that the child is not being playful, or hyperactive temporarily. ADHD is diagnosed as one of three types: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type or combined type.

The child will be assessed for ADHD symptoms by the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V). Additionally, the criteria indicates where and how frequently the symptoms are displayed, and the degree to which they interfere with daily life. Specific DSM V symptoms and diagnoses can be found on the American Psychiatric Association (APA) website.

At what age can ADHD be diagnosed?
ADHD can be diagnosed from as early as 4 years old, but most symptoms are only observed when they are of school appropriate age, in a natural school setting. The symptoms are more likely to begin before 7 years of age, and be evident for at least six months. It is better for the child to be diagnosed as early as possible, as early intervention can promote healthy development.