Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioral disorder that affects approximately 11 percent of children. Although the ADHD signs and symptoms in adolescence can vary, they typically include problems with focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Early Warning Signs of ADHD
Though the signs and symptoms of ADHD can vary from child to child, there are some common ones that tend to show up in adolescence. If your child exhibits any of the following behaviors, it may be time to have a conversation with their pediatrician about the possibility of ADHD.
One of the most common signs of ADHD in adolescence is mood swings. These can range from mild, daily fluctuations to more extreme changes that seem to come out of nowhere. If your child’s mood swings are impacting their ability to function at home or school, it may be a sign of ADHD.
Another common sign of ADHD is impulsivity. This can manifest in a number of ways, from blurting out answers in class before the teacher has finished asking the question or acting without thinking through the consequences of their actions.
If your child is having difficulty concentrating, it may be a sign of ADHD. This can look like daydreaming in class, having trouble completing tasks, or being easily distracted.
Difficulty Controlling Emotions
Many adolescents with ADHD have difficulty controlling their emotions. This can lead to outbursts of anger or frustration, as well as feelings of sadness or anxiety. If your child is struggling to control their emotions, it may be a sign of ADHD.
Hyperactivity is another common sign of ADHD, though it may look different in adolescents than it does in younger children. In teens, hyperactivity may manifest as fidgeting, difficulty sitting still, or excessive talking.
Trouble With Organizational Skills
Organizational skills often begin to decline in adolescence, but for adolescents with ADHD, this decline can be much more pronounced. This may manifest as losing track of homework assignments, forgetting to turn in completed work, or having a messy backpack or bedroom.
How Does ADHD Affect a Child’s Behavior?
Most children with ADHD have difficulty paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), and are overly active. These behaviors interfere with daily activities such as school, homework, family time, and friendships.
How Does ADHD Affect a Child’s Learning?
Because they can’t focus on tasks and struggle to follow directions, children with ADHD often have difficulty in school. They may be unable to sit still, pay attention, or complete work accurately. As a result, they may fall behind.
How to Get a Child Tested for ADHD
If you think your child may have ADHD, the first step is to talk to their pediatrician, specifically a pediatric behavioral health specialist. Your doctor will likely ask about your child’s symptoms and how they’ve been impacting their life. They may also conduct a physical exam to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.
When Can a Child be Diagnosed with ADHD?
Most children with ADHD are diagnosed between the ages of 6 and 12. Symptoms must be present for at least 6 months to warrant a diagnosis.
What are the Treatment Options for ADHD?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating ADHD, but there are many effective options available. The most common treatment approach includes medication and behavioral therapy. Medication can help improve focus and concentration, while behavioral therapy can teach children helpful strategies for managing their symptoms. In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy is the most effective treatment approach.
Behavioral Health at Parker Pediatrics
Our caring and experienced staff provide comprehensive behavioral health services to help children and families thrive. We offer a variety of services, including ADHD evaluations. To learn more about our behavioral health services or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (303) 841-2905.