How do you know if they have ADHD?

ADHD is complicated and the answer isn’t always simple. Nothing is harder than watching your sweet, beautiful little boy or girl (or maybe not so little) struggle through school, homework, practicing their instrument, or even playing in a group of kids. ADHD can affect so many different areas of their lives.

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ADHD is hard

It’s painful to watch them struggle with ADHD and know that they deserve better. It’s even more painful to feel like you can’t help them. And if you’re like us, you are looking for ANY answer to this question that isn’t an automatic prescription for ADHD drugs.

So we have to answer this question about ADHD as thoroughly as we can, but also gently. We’ve been in your shoes and we know that you want to hear the truth, but it’s a sensitive subject: It’s your baby.

Here’s one major part of the truth about ADHD:

Your child MAY qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD based on the DSM-5 and its description of the symptoms that are used to create the term. Here is what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has to say about the DSM-5 and the diagnostic process for ADHD.

Some ADHD symptoms include:

  • Fidgeting
  • Impulsivity
    • Speaking without thinking
    • Acting without thinking
  • Focus problems
  • Distractibility
    • Getting easily distracted by noises
    • Getting easily distracted by movement
  • Emotional Dysregulation
  • Difficulty reading (and sometimes Dyslexia!)
ADHD makes reading hard

But there are a lot of lesser-known ADHD symptoms too

That we think you should know about. Lots of ADHD mamas feel alone, like bad parents, or like their child is the only one dealing with these ADHD symptoms:

  • Chewing on things (pens, pencils, shirt collars, shirt sleeves)
  • Picky eating (no, just “letting them starve” doesn’t help.)
  • Poor handwriting
  • Coordination issues
  • Sensory sensitivities (read more about that here)
  • Poor sleep
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Being a space-invader (they get too close, want to sit right next to/on top of you)
  • Behavior issues
  • Tics (facial and/or vocal)
  • Messy eating
ADHD and messy eating

So if your child displays a handful of these symptoms

It’s pretty likely that they could qualify for an ADHD diagnosis. But that’s up to you to pursue.

Some families prefer to get the ADHD diagnosis because it qualifies your kiddo for services and supports like IEP or 504 plans.

Some families would rather avoid the diagnosis because they don’t want their child to be labeled that way or potentially use it as a cop-out for trying their best.

The decision to get your child diagnosed with ADHD is totally up to your family and don’t let anybody pressure you either way!

But there’s more you need to know about ADHD:

ADHD symptoms are NOT a life sentence. The ADHD symptoms listed in the DSM-5 are all connected to immaturity in the brain. And the brain can change! Look at this article from the University of Washington: https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.

There are thousands of new studies showing that the symptoms that lead to the diagnosis of ADHD can be reduced and eliminated by changing the way the brain communicates within itself and with the rest of the body.

There’s nothing wrong with getting a diagnosis. But we want you to know that whatever your child is going through, there is hope for ADHD kids! There are vast resources on the internet available for you to learn how you can help your child start to overcome the struggle of ADHD without having to take medication and, in some cases, right from your very own home.

P.S. You can learn more about that any time by scheduling a free chat with me, Jess! We’ll talk about what your kiddo is dealing with, answer your questions, and talk about what you can start doing today to heal your child’s ADHD (diagnosis isn’t necessary!)