Sad child

Not Just ADHD?

The CDC shared that many children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have other concerns or disorders. Recognizing symptoms of different disorders and finding ways to help children can be a challenge for families. Learn more about how to help children who have ADHD and other disorders.

Is it ADHD?

It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue, can be severe, and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends.

A child with ADHD might

  • daydream a lot
  • forget or lose things a lot
  • squirm or fidget
  • talk too much
  • make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
  • have a hard time resisting temptation
  • have trouble taking turns
  • have difficulty getting along with others

Could it be something else?

Many other disorders or conditions can also have symptoms that look like those of ADHD. For example, a child with a sleep disorder might have trouble focusing or remembering. A child with a learning disorder might make seemingly careless mistakes. A child with a behavior disorder might have difficulty getting along with others or resisting temptation. A child with anxiety might squirm or fidget often. For some children, symptoms that look like ADHD can be better explained by another diagnosis, but many children with ADHD also have another condition.

Sometimes symptoms that might look like ADHD or other conditions can be temporary. Having difficulties with behavior or emotions might be a reaction to stress and change. For example, coping with stress from significant life changes, such as COVID-19, can be a challenge, particularly for children who are already struggling with managing their behavior and emotions. Changes in routines like switching between in-person and virtual learning, or returning to school after a longer break, can be stressful and can make children more easily distracted or fidgety. If children do not settle quickly into a new situation, it can be hard for parents to understand whether their child is reacting to temporary stress, or if there is a problem that needs treatment. A thorough evaluation may be needed to learn what causes the problems.

For some children, having ADHD without getting the right treatment and support can cause problems that lead to other disorders, such as behavior problems, anxiety, or depression. These issues stem from challenges brought on by ADHD symptoms. An evaluation might be needed if a child with ADHD develops other problems over time.

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