Can Any Other Conditions Produce These
The fact is, many things can produce these behaviors. Anything
from chronic fear to mild seizures can make a child seem overactive,
quarrelsome, impulsive, or inattentive. For example, a formerly
cooperative child who becomes overactive and easily distracted
after a parent's death is dealing with an emotional problem, not
ADHD. A chronic middle ear infection can also make a child seem
distracted and uncooperative. So can living with family members
who are physically abusive or addicted to drugs or alcohol. Can
you imagine a child trying to focus on a math lesson when his
or her safety and well-being are in danger each day? Such children
are showing the effects of other problems, not ADHD.
In other children, ADHD-like behaviors may be their response
to a defeating classroom situation. Perhaps the child has a learning
disability and is not developmentally ready to learn to read and
write at the time these are taught. Or maybe the work is too hard
or too easy, leaving the child frustrated or bored.
Tyrone and Mimi are two examples of how classroom conditions
can elicit behaviors that look like ADHD. For months, Tyrone shouted
answers out in class, then became disruptive when the teacher
ignored him. He certainly seemed hyperactive and impulsive. Finally,
after observing Tyrone in other situations, his teacher realized
he just wanted approval for knowing the right answer. She began
to seek opportunities to call on him and praise him. Gradually,
Tyrone became calmer and more cooperative.
Mimi, a fourth grader, made loud noises during reading group
that constantly disrupted the class. One day the teacher realized
that the book was too hard for Mimi. Mimi's disruptions stopped
when she was placed in a reading group where the books were easier
and she could successfully participate in the lesson.
Like Tyrone and Mimi, some children's attention and class participation
improve when the class structure and lessons are adjusted a bit
to meet their emotional needs, instructional level, or learning
style. Although such children need a little help to get on track
at school, they probably donşt have ADHD.
It's also important to realize that during certain stages of
development, the majority of children that age tend to be inattentive,
hyperactive, or impulsive--bbut do not have ADHD. Preschoolers
have lots of energy and run everywhere they go, but this doesn't
mean they are hyperactive. And many teenagers go through a phase
when they are messy, disorganized, and reject authority. It doesn't
mean they will have a lifelong problem controlling their impulses.
ADHD is a serious diagnosis that may require long-term treatment
with counseling and medication. So it's important that a doctor
first look for and treat any other causes for these behaviors.
What Can Look Like ADHD?
- Underachievement at school due to a learning disability
- Attention lapses caused by petit mal seizures
- A middle ear infection that causes an intermittent hearing
- Disruptive or unresponsive behavior due to anxiety or depression
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