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ADD: How To Tell If Your Child Has It

Recognizing the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder

ADD children exhibit several behaviors that are common in most kids. Most children occasionally misbehave, day dream, and act silly. So what, then, is the difference between children with ADD and those without ADD?

Kids with Attention Deficit Disorder tend to exhibit these behaviors in an extreme manner, and almost constantly. This often interferes with their academic progress as well as their social and family interactions. 

Here are some of the more common ADD behaviors: 

  • Inattention - The most obvious and well-known behavior of a child with ADD is an inability to pay attention and focus on a task for more than a few moments at a time.

    This behavior is displayed in a variety of situations, such as forgetting or being unable to follow instructions that were just given, being inattentive when carrying on a conversation, growing bored of activities right away, day dreaming, and being unable to complete assigned tasks. 
  • Hyper attention - Oddly, the same ADD child who is unable to stay focused long enough to finish most common tasks may easily be able to focus on a video game or TV show for hours on end.

    This ability to hyper-focus on such activities is very common in people with Attention Deficit Disorder. This unusual behavior is possible because the youngster pursues the desirable activity with a heightened level of excitement (a controlled form of hyperactivity). 
  • Distractibility - ADD children are easily distracted from most activities by a stimulus in the environment (sound, movement, color, etc.) as well as by their own scattered, quickly changing thoughts. This results in unfinished or poorly completed tasks, constant non-conformance with known rules, jumping from one activity to another, and difficulty for the child to do well in group situations (especially school) where following rules is essential.
  • Impulsivity - A child with ADD will often blurt out information in an inappropriate manner and make poor decisions relative to their actions. He may risk his own safety without a second thought by running into the street, climbing high up into a tree or rock formation, or diving into a pool without first checking the depth.

    Kids with ADD act on impulse rather than using logic or problem-solving skills. Impulsivity in ADD children is often characterized by impatience and temperamental (and often oppositional) behavior since the ADD child often feels a strong urge for something, anything, to happen right now
  • Hyperactivity - Of all the common characteristics of ADD kids, the behavior that is most difficult for those dealing with the children to handle is the constant presence of hyperactivity.

    A hyperactive child is always in motion - running, jumping, touching, searching, pushing, tapping, and squabbling with friends and siblings. The hyperactive ADD child seems to require a high level of stimulation all the time in order to feel good.

    Hyperactivity also manifests itself in the form of an ADD child who talks constantly, is always clowning around, and gets into every other kind of trouble that a parent can imagine. 
  • Insatiability - An ADD child has an insatiable desire for attention. While all children need attention from adults, those with ADD can never seem to get enough of it.

    They tend to act out, talk a lot, joke around, monopolize their conversations, demand the teacher's continuous involvement, show off in front of their friends, and badger until they get their way. 
  • Poor coordination and clumsiness - Many ADD kids demonstrate problems with motor skills. This can be exhibited in poor handwriting and difficulty performing routine tasks such as fastening buttons or tying shoelaces.

    When this is combined with an inability to plan or organize a flow of activities, the result may be a chaotic and disorganized appearance. Balance, depth - perception, or hand-eye coordination may also be poor. 
  • Disorganization - The ADD child is usually a study being disorganized! Whether it is the disarray of the child's room, the sloppy organization of a term paper, a mess of school supplies, grooming, dressing and hygiene skills, or any other aspect of the ADD child's life, the most probable outcome is simply a disorganized mess. This results from ADD children's impulsivity, distractibility, hyperactivity, and inattention.
  • Wide mood swings - When dealing with an ADD child, everything is always at an extreme. And the range of emotions is extreme as well. In some cases, they'll be very domineering and controlling as they seek to draw attention to themselves (by tf support allender). In others, they'll simply be unreachable, and no amount of parental intervention or discipline seems to make any difference in the behavior.
    When a youngster with ADD is caught up in the emotions of the moment, there seems to be no way to have a reasonable discussion to attempt to circumvent the emotional whirlwind in progress.

    ADD kids can be described as stubborn, oppositional, overly-dramatic, ecstatically happy or extremely sensitive, just to name a few of the extreme emotions experienced by ADDs. 
  • Poor social skills - Considering what we have discussed up to this point, it's not surprising that ADD children fare poorly in relationships with their peers. They act and speak impulsively, show off, dominate conversations and class time, clown around at the most inappropriate times, may be physically clumsy and awkward, and usually irritate and annoy their young peers in many ways.
As a result of the behaviors and symptoms just described, ADD children encounter all too many difficulties in their young lives. ADD should never be considered "just a phase" that will eventually be outgrown. Parents and educators need to seek all of the knowledge about ADD that they can find to help these kids succeed throughout the elementary school years. 

Jeanne Bauer is the author of the ADD to C3 Kids E-Booklets.

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