ADHD Symptoms In Kids: How Can I Get My Child Tested?

Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW

Published 12/28/2020

ADHD is a diagnosis given to children, and adults, when they have a hard time focusing and tendencies to be hyperactive. A pediatrician, psychiatrist, or a school psychologist can diagnose attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While there is no cure for kids with ADHD, ADHD children can be successful adults in life with proper treatment.

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The symptoms of ADHD in kids can be different for all children. In children with ADD, or attention deficit disorder, the symptoms are different in boys versus girls, with females being the harder of the two genders to diagnose.  

There are three categories of ADHD that child fall in to:

  1. Inattentiveness or lack of focus
  2. Hyperactivity and impulsivity
  3. All three: inattentive, hyperactive, and lacking impulse control

The range of symptoms these ADHD kids may have include:

  • Short attention span
  • Easily distracted
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Making mistakes with schoolwork on things that they comprehend in conversation
  • Losing items
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to stay on task on time-consuming or multi-step problems.
  • Appearing to be unable to listen or carry out instructions
  • Switching tasks or activities frequently.
  • Inability or difficulties organizing tasks
  • Inability to sit still; excessive movement
  • Fidgeting, sometimes constantly
  • Problems concentrating
  • Excessive talking
  • Lack of patience; especially with speaking or taking turns
  • Acting or speaking without thinking
  • Constantly interrupting conversations
  • Lack of a sense of danger
  • Lack of self-care

These ADHD symptoms in children are the main ones and considered the most common. While symptoms can be found in younger children, they are typically most noticeable between the ages of four and eight. In addition, symptoms occur in multiple situations, such as at home and at school. When your child's ability to focus in school becomes impacted, there are child-specific ADHD tests that can be administered to assist the pediatrician with making a diagnosis.

Several tests and questionnaires will be given to the child's parents and teachers if the school is ordering testing. One of them may include ADHD Symptoms in Children Checklist with the above-aforementioned symptoms. Keep in mind that no single can diagnose a child with ADD or ADHD, nor is there bloodwork that can determine a child's diagnosis. Using the results of various tests will decide whether or not your child has Educational ADD (a diagnosis given by the school) or ADD/ADHD as deemed by a medical provider.

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Some of the tests that may be requested include:

  • Brown's Attention Deficit Disorder Scales: reliably screen for and explore the executive cognitive functioning associated with ADHD

  • BASC-3 Flex Monitor: monitors changes in behavior and emotional functioning

  • Conners 3: a tool for supporting the diagnostic process

  • Sensory Profile: Results explain how sensory processing can affect the child's daily functioning performance. Sensory Processing Disorder is a comorbidity of ADHD.

  • Sensory Profile 2: evaluates a child's sensory processing patterns in the home, school, and community-based activities.

  • Sensory Profile School Companion (SPSC): evaluates a child's sensory processing skills and how these skills affect the child's classroom behavior and performance.

  • Social Cognition Tests: Over a dozen social cognition tests look for different aspects of social and emotional recognition. These tests look for the child's ability to recognize faces, name to face association, emotions, prosody, and theory of the mind.

  • Edinburgh Social Cognition Test (ESCoT)
    • Combined Stories Test (COST)
    • Social Knowledge Test (SKT)
    • Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT)
    • Emotional Perception Test (EPT)
    • Facial Expression of Emotion (FEEST)
    • Faux Pas Recognition Test
    • Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior (FIRO-B)
    • Greenspan Social-Emotional Growth Chart
    • Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory
    • Social Skills Improvement System
    • Test of Emotional Development (TED)
    • Theory of Mind Inventory-2 (TOMI-2)

  • TEA-Ch2: The Test of Everyday Attention for Children is a unique test that measures separable aspects of attention. This is an excellent test to use in the school environment.

While this appears to be a comprehensive list of tests, this is just the beginning of possible tests that can be done to test your child for ADD, ADHD, ASD, and other mental health or behavioral disorders. Keep in mind, as your child gets older, different symptomology may become apparent, or diagnoses may be made; some diagnoses cannot be confidently made before the age of 12. 

My Child Gets Very Focused on Somethings and Ignores Others

Children with ADD and ADHD can, interesting enough, become hyper-focused on things they particularly like and have what appears to be no ability to focus on things that do not interest them. When a child becomes hyper-focused, it can make it very hard to get them to stop engaging in an activity. Where a child that does not have ADHD may hear "It's time to clean up," and they stop what they are doing and put their toys or crayons away, a child with ADHD may become so hyper-focused that they refuse to stop working on what he or she is doing until they feel it is complete. 

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Children that get intense hyper-focus can spend hours working on a project and become so engrossed that they do not have any sense of what is happening around them.

Interestingly enough, both inattentiveness and hyper-focusing come from the same region of the brain. Both are thought to be the direct result of abnormal levels of dopamine. This neurotransmitter is particularly active in the brain's frontal lobes; this is also where executive processing and functioning occur. When a dopamine deficiency occurs, it can make it hard to change or shift gears to a less enthusiastic task. Executive Processing Disorder (EPD), common in those with ADHD, also plays a part in this brain chemistry. Those who have EPD tend to be unorganized, lack focus, and have difficulty with multi-step directions or problems. This balance of hyper-focusing and EPD may be hard to understand; however, it all has to do with the brain's development and its ability to regulate chemicals properly.

Many doctors, artists, and writer with ADHD conduct their best work when they get hyper-focused. You may be surprised how many of your physicians have ADD or ADHD since they can multi-task several items at one time. There is a "pro" side to the disorder. However, it needs to be kept in check. You certainly do not want a surgeon to become so engrossed in surgery that it results in patient complications. There is a balance to the disorder, and a therapist's help is recommended to develop a mental toolbox. Doing so will help the brain switch tasks without much hesitation so that the party can be as productive as possible in every situation.

It all depends on how severe your child's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is and what is done to regulate their bodies and minds. Meditation and focal activities are good ways to increase your child's awareness and ability to focus on a task.

Time management needs to be carefully taught so that your child can adequately gauge how long it takes to do menial tasks; this will help them to be able to better manage their time when given a more extended task to complete. 

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Organizational skills need to be taught to help keep your child organized at home and at school. Does your child often forget to bring homework assignments back to school or bring important notes or work home? Designing checklists can help your child to become more organized. If they go through their lists of tasks daily, they have a better chance of being more organized. Reminders will need to be made to look at their checklists until it becomes as routine as brushing their teeth or eating lunch. If self-care items (brushing teeth, combing hair, putting on deodorant) is problematic, this should become part of a checklist as well.  

With time and dedication, your child can get a hold of their ADHD and use it to their advantage. If they are left on their own to manage it, their ADHD can potentially have adverse outcomes in school and at home.

Be sure to have your school set up an IEP or 504 Plan for your child to ensure they get the extra help they need to manage their school day. There is no reason for a child with ADHD to fall behind; they may just need some additional guidance or support to help them with assignments, time management, and organization.

It is wise to talk to your child's doctor and therapist about the best ways to manage ADHD and troubleshoot current problems they are facing. They can also facilitate getting an IEP or 504 Plan in place for your child.

If you are looking for a "Does my child have ADHD quiz," you can visit https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/adhd-test. Here you will find all the information you need to get the proper testing done and links to therapists who can help you navigate the world of ADHD. Be sure to seek out help yourself if you are struggling with managing your child's behaviors or actions.

NOTES: You can also add the Vanderbilt screen for ADHD. There is a teacher and a parent form that can be utilized to diagnosis ADHD in children.
 Does not go against what is clinically accepted.
 Does not encourage mindsets or practices that may be harmful to the reader.
 Is factual and up-to-date.