Almost every child gets the fidgets, occasionally interrupts or can be distracted from what she is doing. A child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, however, has these and other behaviors regularly and much more frequently than children of the same age or developmental level. Children can have different degrees of ADHD and behavior can vary, but there are a few behaviors that are typical.
The key words in ADHD also describe two of the major groups of behaviors: attention deficit and hyperactivity. ADHD is actually a disorder of the brain, and the child is not deliberately acting out. Attention deficit occurs because the brain cannot remain focused. The child is easily distracted, gets bored quickly, tends to leave projects unfinished or jumps from one thing to another. Hyperactivity means just what it sounds like -- a child with ADHD is constantly on the go. Even when others are walking, she runs or jumps up and down when her classmates are sitting quietly.
ADHD in the Classroom
ADHD may become more apparent when a child starts school, as she is likely to have trouble with the structured environment common to the school setting. The child with ADHD will have difficulty waiting in line or taking turns, according to the American Association of School Psychologists. She may simply shout out answers to a question even if the teacher hasn’t called on her or get out of her seat and run around the classroom. ADHD children may lose their school supplies, forget to turn in their homework and have trouble working on class projects because they are easily distracted.
Inattention, Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
The key behaviors in ADHD children, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Again, many children will display these behaviors sometimes, but children with ADHD will display them consistently, over a longer period of time and have more severe behaviors than children who do not have ADHD. These are the children who daydream so much they miss what people are saying to them, have difficulty processing information quickly or seem to be off in another world. They are constantly in motion, very impatient and act without regard for consequences. Not all children with ADHD have all of these behaviors, however. For example, a child can be inattentive without being hyperactive.
Children can display typical ADHD behaviors for reasons other than ADHD, according to the NIMH. For example, a child with a hearing problem might seem inattentive or forgetful, when the real issue is the inability to hear what people say to her. Children with dyslexia may have similar problems in learning, such as struggling with homework. Anxiety, depression and stress can cause similar behaviors. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior or suspect she may have ADHD, consult your family doctor or pediatrician.