It’s normal for children to occasionally forget their homework, daydream during class, act without thinking or get fidgety at the dinner table. But inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity are also signs of attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD), which can affect your child’s ability to learn and get along with others.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that appears in early childhood. You may know it by the name attention deficit disorder, or ADD. ADD/ADHD makes it difficult for people to inhibit their spontaneous responses—responses that can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness.
The three primary characteristics of ADD/ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The signs and symptoms a child with attention deficit disorder has depends on which characteristics predominate.
Symptoms of inattention:
- Doesn’t pay attention to details
- Makes careless mistakes
- Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
- Appears not to listen when spoken to
- Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
- Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead and finishing projects
- Gets bored with a task before it’s completed
- Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys etc
Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity:
- Constantly fidgets and squirms
- Often leaves his or her seat in situations where sitting quietly is expected
- Moves around constantly, often runs or climbs inappropriately
- Talks excessively
- Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
- Is always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
- May have a quick temper or a “short fuse"
Supporting Your child at Home and at School:
- Check that your child is sat away from windows and away from the door in their classroom.
- Give instructions one at a time and repeat as necessary.
- If possible, work on the most difficult tasks early in the day.
- Use visuals i.e; charts, pictures.
- Have a quiet area free of distractions for homework.
- Give frequent breaks if you have asked them to do something.
- Make written lists for more than one task at home.
- Create a structure so your child knows what order they are doing things e.g. homework, tea, bath, reading, bedtime. If the schedule changes let them know in advance.
- Give your child something to 'fiddle with' when they are meant to be listening or concentrating e.g. a squashy/stress ball or some blu-tac.
- Watch for warning signs. If your child looks like s/he is becoming frustrated, over tired and about to lose self-control, try to intervene by distracting him/her calmly.
- Be consistent and firm when setting rules.