Understanding ADHD diagnosis in classroom setting
Children with ADHD show signs of the disorder when they reach school age. It comes up when they are having trouble meeting expectations for kids in their grade and may be referred for diagnosis. ADHD is suspected when a child’s behavior in class, or performance on schoolwork is problematic.
A child who cannot sit still, who doesn’t finish his homework, or seems to be daydreaming when the teacher gives instructions, may be known to have ADHD symptoms. However, merely having these behavior traits does not necessarily mean a child has ADHD. It could be a result of factors such as anxiety, trauma, or simply being younger than most kids in the class. That’s why it is important for teachers and parents both to be aware of what ADHD looks like in the classroom, and how it might be confused with other things that could be influencing a child’s behavior.
There are three kinds of behaviors associated with ADHD. These include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Kids should only be diagnosed with ADHD if their behavior continues to be much more extreme in these areas than other kids their age.
Here are some of the obvious behavior patterns teachers might observe in school:
- Making careless mistakes in school work
- Easily distracted or sidetracked
- Difficulty following instructions
- Doesn’t seem to be listening when spoken to directly
- Has trouble organizing tasks and possessions
- Fails to finish work in school or chores in classroom
- Avoiding or resisting tasks that requires a lot of mental effort, including doing homework
Hyperactive or impulsive Symptoms
- Often fidgets or squirms
- Has trouble staying in his seat
- Runs and climbs where it is inappropriate
- Has trouble playing quietly
- Extremely impatient
- Talking excessively
- Blurts out answers before a question is completed
- Interrupts or intrudes on others conversations, activities, possessions
It is important to understand that not every high-energy or impulsive child has ADHD. Children are diagnosed with ADHD only if they demonstrate these symptoms so often that they find difficulty in school or home settings. This pattern that causes them serious impairment must persist for at least 6 months.
Age and other factors
When considering a child’s behavior, it is important to compare it to other children of the same age, and not range of kids in his class or grade. Within any given grade, kids’ ages can differ by almost a year and this can make a big difference in a child’s ability to self-regulate. According to studies, kids who are youngest in their class are disproportionately diagnosed with ADHD.
There could be other underlying factors that could cause children to exhibit behaviors that are similar to ADHD. A child who is inattentive could be distracted by
- Chronic anxiety
- Worrisome or painful situation at home
- Being bullied at home or school
- Undiagnosed learning disorders like dyslexia
These are some of the things that can cause a child to be embarrassed and go to great lengths to keep these a secret.
It is important to keep an eye on kids’ behavior in the classroom as it not only affects their learning, but also acts as a window into their social and emotional development. When kids are falling or struggling in school for a long time, or acting out in frustration, it can lead to a pattern of dysfunctional behavior that gets difficult to manage over time. Parents need to get a good diagnosis from a mental health professional who will take time to carefully consider a child’s behavior and what it might or might not indicate. Paying attention and treating a child’s problem when he is young can pay off in the long ru