By Sabria Mills
ADHD is the acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It is considered a deficit that affects attention, focus, impulsivity, and executive functioning. Children with ADHD often struggle with completing assignments, memorizing facts, following instructions, and sustaining attention to lengthy tasks.
Even as a certified special education teacher and leader in instructional interventions, I was severely underprepared for addressing my daughter’s attention concerns. I realized far too late the impact of ignoring key traits throughout the years of my daughter’s development.
Here are four signs of ADHD you should never ignore in your child.
1 – They never seem to listen
A child’s ability to listen and follow directions is a natural part of his or her development. Children that repeatedly have issues with listening, following directions, and comprehending instructions, could be displaying symptoms of an actual deficit.
I honestly believed my daughter was developing a behavioral problem as a result of her inability to consistently listen and follow my directions at home.
However, I slowly began to realize the impact a poor working memory can have on a child’s ability to listen. A low working memory can lead to difficulties with a child being able to hold on to what is said long enough to follow the information.
2 – They easily forget tasks and information
Remembering tasks is a component of a person’s executive functioning – an area often affected in children with ADHD.
Children with ADHD often have deficits in their working and short-term memory. Working memory involves using information stored to solve or accomplish a goal, while short-term memory involves storing and retrieving information at a later time.
If you find yourself having to repeatedly remind your child about simple tasks, this could be a sign of an actual attention concern.
3 – Nothing ever seems to get completed
Children with ADHD can require twice as much energy than their peers to focus enough to complete a task.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (2015), children with ADHD often have trouble getting started and completing tasks as a result of a deficit in focus and activation.
My daughter would begin countless projects and never complete any of them. As a mother, I struggled to acknowledge the impact this trait had on my daughter’s everyday academic challenges.
4 – They tend to feel hurt easily
A child with ADHD can easily fluctuate between feelings of sadness, happiness, hurt, and anger in the blink of an eye.
According to Dr. Jonathan Posner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, “Kids with ADHD often times have emotion-related symptoms, including emotional reactivity and poor frustration tolerance,” (Posner, 2011).
As a parent, it is critical to identify and understand the difference between your child’s emotional breakdowns and their medical condition.
This was one of my biggest mistakes and greatest regrets.
I would often admonish my daughter for her drastic breakdowns and it would only increase her frustration. It was only after a careful diagnosis that I realized the importance of providing alternative outlets for her to express her feelings.
Posner J, et al. (2011). Abnormal Amygdalar Activation and Connectivity in Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 50(8):828–837. e3.
About the author:
Sabria Mills is currently serving at Al-Falah Academy as the Response to Intervention Department Chair. Sabria Mills is Georgia certified and experienced in special and elementary education. She is a member of the administrative team at Al-Falah Academy, monitoring the growth and success of students at risk. In addition to her role as an academic interventionist, she has developed a protocol for identifying and monitoring students with ADHD and ADD in the Islamic school setting. She recently founded MEEL (Muslim Educators for Exceptional Learners), which is an organization developed to advocate for exceptional learners and support educators in Islamic schools.