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Signs of ADHD

Read this page to learn what the signs of ADHD are.

What ADHD looks like
Children with ADHD are not all alike.

  • Some are a lot more active than other children. This is called being hyperactive (hi-per-AK-tiv).
  • Some children may do things without thinking about what might happen later. This is called being impulsive (im-PULS-iv). Here are some examples:
    • They may have a hard time sitting still when they need to, like in class.
    • They may get into trouble for running around or climbing on things too much.
    • They may run out into the street without looking to see if a car is coming.
  • Some children have trouble paying attention. This is called being inattentive (in-a-TEN-tiv). They may also have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time. Here are some examples:
    • They may make mistakes because they weren't paying attention.
    • They may lose things easily.
    • They may forget what they were told.
    • They may not be able to focus on a story or lesson in school.
      So they may miss part of it.
    • When they're supposed to be paying attention to one thing, they may not be able to "tune out" other things like noises or people moving around the room.
    • They may stare off into space.
  • Some children have problems with short term memory.
    This means they may forget something you just told them.
    Or what they wanted to say.

Some children have all of these problems. Other children only have some of them. But many children with ADHD have problems because:

  • They get frustrated easily.
  • They have trouble keeping up at school.
  • They have trouble making friends because they act different than other children.

Sometimes it's hard to tell if a child with hearing loss has ADHD
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing may look like they have ADHD when they don't because:

  • They look around the room all the time to see who is talking.
    A teacher may think they aren't paying attention.
  • They use their hands and bodies to communicate.
    This may look like they are over active.
  • They have trouble doing what they are told because they don't understand.
  • They get frustrated and "act up" because they can't communicate well enough.

Get your child tested if you think he has ADHD
It's hard to know if a child has ADHD. There's no blood test that tells you if your child has it.

Find someone to check your child out for ADHD. This person could be a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or pediatrician who:

  • knows how to test for ADHD in children with hearing loss.
    Some of the tests used with hearing children don't work with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • understands how children who are deaf or hard of hearing usually act
  • can communicate well with your child. If your child uses sign language, the therapist should know how to sign or use an interpreter.

There are 4 parts to seeing if your child has ADHD

  1. An evaluator may give your child some tests for attention and impulsivity. Ask the evaluator if these tests work with children who have a hearing loss.
  2. You and your child's teachers may be asked to fill out some forms that ask questions about how your child acts at school and home.
  3. The evaluator will talk to you and your child about the problems that are coming up.
  4. The evaluator will want to rule out other things that might be causing your child's problems.
    • Not eating right or not getting enough sleep can cause problems like being too active and not paying attention.
    • If your child has a learning disability or can't see well, he may also seem like he's not paying attention.
    • If your child has a hard time understanding the teacher, he may look like he's not paying attention.

Next: How you can help your child

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National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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