ADD/ADHD: Learn How to Read the Signs, Diagnose & Respond

Special needs consultant explains that your inattentive child may be exhibiting more than bad behavior – here’s what parents need to know about ADD/ADHD. 

Does your child spend hours playing digital games, but has trouble focusing on tasks like reading, following directions, or staying on topic in a conversation? Do you sometimes wonder if your child may be purposely misbehaving? Or, do you have suspicions that something else might be causing your child to struggle with basic life activities and school work?Signs Your Child May Have ADD or ADHD

In this article, learn more about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD), as these diagnoses may be the reason for your child’s difficulties.

Signs your child may have ADD/ADHD

The American Psychiatric Association defines ADD/ADHD as “a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development…” Because there are no physical systems to this disability, it is often referred to as an “invisible disability.”

While there are signs of ADD/ADHD, they can sometimes be symptoms of other underlying issues. This list is intended for educational purposes and not as a diagnosis for your child. Always consult with a professional if you have questions about your child’s health and behaviors.

A child with ADD/ADHD often:

  • Has trouble paying attention to the task at hand
  • Is easily distracted by seemingly insignificant sounds or movements
  • Has difficulty remembering what they learned a short time ago
  • Has trouble listening to and participating in a conversation
  • Has trouble waiting their turn
  • Has trouble differentiating between important and unimportant stimuli
  • Is disorganized because following through on a thought process in an organized manner is difficult
  • Has difficulty staying with a task for an extended period of time
  • Has difficulty with executive functioning (impulsivity, emotional control, thinking on their feet, working memory, self-regulation, planning, getting started on a task, organization)

Communicating your child’s learning needs

It’s important to explain to someone working with your child that the ADD/ADHD diagnosis is not an excuse, but a genuine difficulty for your child. The behavioral issues that sometimes come along with the diagnosis should be discussed so that your child will not be reprimanded for behaviors they cannot fully control.

While the behaviors must be addressed, they can be greatly reduced with the appropriate intervention.

Discuss with teachers what you are doing at home to help your child. Offer suggestions based on what works well for you. Be sure to share what additional support your child may be receiving along with extra-curricular activities they enjoy and excel in. A supportive teacher will want to integrate these tips into the classroom lessons for your child.

Teaching your child how to share their needs

Sometimes, children with ADD/ADHD are misunderstood by their peers and can become the target of ridicule, or worse, bullying. Children aware of their diagnosis may not want to share it with friends on the playground. They may also suffer low self-esteem.

Many celebrities and athletes openly speak about their ADD/ADHD diagnosis. By giving your child examples of these positive role models, your child can feel confident to talk with others about ADD/ADHD.

Adapting learning to suit your child’s needs

Children with attention issues need to have tasks broken up into smaller parts. Write the steps to completing homework in a place your child can easily access. This will eliminate the need for him to count on others to know what comes next.

You can help your child refocus by using a special code like a light touch on the arm or by softly tapping a pencil on the table.

Auditory Feedback Reading Tool

Alternate mental work with physical breaks like jumping jacks or running on the spot. This targets your child’s need to move. After a short break, he will be better able to focus.

Include physical activity in lessons that typically do not include them, such as in math. Have your child skip while counting or trace numbers in the air while multiplying.

Help your children focus by blocking out background noise with this auditory feedback tool designed for ages 4+. It helps students improve reading skills by hearing the sound of their own voice loud and clear as they receive immediate auditory feedback.

Finding a learning program to suit your child’s needs

When your child understands this is something that makes them special, they might be willing to accept special treatment – like this video game catered to their learning preferences. As ADHD symptoms can often be traced to a deficit of executive function skills, Kiko’s Thinking Time App targets cognitive skills essential for learning and life, such as executive functioning and reasoning, through a suite of games based on neuropsychological exercises used in lab research.

Cognitive Skills Video Game

Designed for children ages 3-7, the app allows kids to complete activities on their own. There’s no reading required, voice instructions guide students through activities, and the motivational support throughout such as rewards and positive feedback help keep kids engaged. An independently-led study found that Pre-K students using Kiko’s Thinking Time over 2 weeks progressed an equivalent of 4 months in reasoning skills, as measured by an external assessment. With an annual subscription, you can have your children hone their attention skills, memory, and logical reasoning skills through games.

No matter the approach, it’s important to vary the strategies for a child with ADD/ADHD. Keeping him engaged means keeping up with their bodies’ need to move. Don’t fight your child – join them!

About the All-Star Blogger

GabriellaGabriella Volpe is a homeschooling mom of a child with special needs, a certified teacher and the homeschool consultant for families of children with special needs. She knows first-hand what it means to struggle with educational planning for a child who does not fit the system and is limited by resources and products intended for children without disabilities. She helps parents find ways to adapt and modify the curriculum so they don’t have to spend hours figuring it out on their own. She also helps after-schooling families of children with special needs navigate their way around the homework hours. You can find her at