How do you know if your child has ADD?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2009
How do you know if your child has ADD?
Fri, 06-19-2009 - 12:06am
Hi to all of you. I am new to this board and I am looking for advice/thoughts on how to tell if my DD (5 yrs old) has ADD or ADHD or not. My DH is very active but doesn't seem to have any problems concentrating or anything like that, but he is going to go and get tested just to be sure. We have had her to the Ped. and he says that she is too young to tell as of yet but that we can test her when she is of the right age. She is very active and we have her in all kinds of sports, swimming, etc. and that seems to keep her happy for the time she is there. I work part-time from home and during that time she is at school and doesn't seem to have any issues there. She is extremely smart & catches on to things very fast.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2007
Fri, 06-19-2009 - 9:27am

HI and welcome!

ADHD symptoms would depend on the type of ADHD suspected. There are several types of ADHD, and they all need to be diagnosed by a Neuropsychologist or psychiatrist, not a Pediatrician.

Your DD sounds like a normal active 5yo and I agree is a bit young for testing. But if you really think it is necessary ask your ped for a referral to a neuropsychologist, and have it done. SOme will want to wait until she is 6-7 years old however. It is important to get the testing done by someone competent, and knowledgeable, since ADHD can be misdiagnosed, and is commonly misdiagnosed in young kids. There are lots of Comorbids, and they can also be missed. It is also possible it is something else or nothing.

A child may HAVE ADHD, but it is not what they ARE. Never tell a child they ARE ADHD.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 06-19-2009 - 10:31am

OK...well, doesn't matter if she's ADHD or not, I'd still recommend these two things:
#1) Skip the repeating. Try the 1-2-3 Magic approach. She doesn't do it, you start counting. You get to 3, she gets a consequence. This one helped me stay calmer & was very very clear to the kid.
#2) (and possibly more important) So, you have a long list of negative consequences--are you using any of the positive discipline methods? They're generally MUCH better for getting ADHD (and lots of other kinds of kids) to learn different behaviors. Sticker charts, marble jars, whatever sort of reward & behavior tracking system you like. The key is to pick one or two behaviors to work on at a time--for instance, when you are making dinner, she's in charge of entertaining herself. She's 5, presuming she has toys & books, should be able to do this, right? She doesn't bug you then, she gets a sticker (or break it down into even smaller increments). X stickers gets her something--I know lots of people do toys, we did have the occasional thing that cost money, but with my kids, an extra story at bedtime was a pretty big incentive at that age. Or playing a game with *just her*, if what she's really craving is personal attention.

My trick on the whiney asks are you have to repeat the question in a non-whiney voice. Over & over if necessary. I shant claim this is perfect, but I know my ADHD kid had trouble for awhile "hearing" the difference between a whiny ask & a non-whiny ask. Even though it was abundantly clear to us!

Smart doesn't mean they aren't ADHD. Mine's quite smart...learned fast at that age. Wasn't until we hit 1st grade & having to sit at your desk & listen that the differences between him & an active boy who hates drawing became clear. I kept hoping he was just bored...alas, no! Equally, what you are detailing isn't necessarily ADHD, either!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-14-2009
Tue, 07-14-2009 - 7:25pm
thank you! This post was very help-ful!
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2008
Wed, 07-15-2009 - 1:19pm

You can definitely get help at a young age. Our son was being treated for strong indicators of ADHD at age three and was formally diagnosed at age five. And that was through a very conservative child psychology and psychiatry program at Kaiser.

The info. provided by others is really great. Also wanted to add one quick "test": Give your child a can of caffeinated soda, like Coke or Pepsi. Does it make her hyper or calm her down? Children with ADHD are calmed by stimulants like caffeine. Obviously not a scientific test, but I found it confirmed my suspicions when someone else recommend it to me.