Is it ADHD, normal kid stuff, or something else entirely?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a diagnosis that seems to be thrown around more are more frequently these days. If you are a parent who is questioning the possibility of an attention issue with your child, this is an important article for you to read.  While this article is not meant to make any sort of diagnosis, hopefully it will help point you in the right direction toward seeking help if your child needs it.


Hyperactive Type

A child with ADHD (hyperactive type):

  • fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate.
  • is unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • is constantly “on the go,” acting as if being “driven by a motor.”
  • talks excessively.
  • blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • has trouble waiting his/her turn.
  •  interrupts or intrudes on others (butts into conversations or games).

Inattentive Type ADHD

A child with ADHD (inattentive type):

  • fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.
  • has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
  • does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork or chores (loses focus, gets  side-tracked).
  • has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • loses things necessary for tasks and activities (pencils, books, papers, glasses, etc.)
  • is easily distracted.
  • is forgetful in daily activities.

If your child exhibits at least six of these behaviors from either list and the behaviors are seen in more than one setting, it may be worth pursuing an evaluation for ADHD. ADHD has been shown to have a strong genetic link, so if either (or both) parent has been diagnosed with ADHD, your child is more likely to also have ADHD.


Where Should I Go if I Think My Child Has ADHD?

Starting with your pediatrician or family doctor is often a good first step. Some doctors are quite knowledgeable about ADHD and can handle everything through their office. If not, they should be able to refer you somewhere else.

The Pine Rest ADD Institute provides comprehensive evaluations and treatment for ADHD. BRAINS is another West Michigan area organization that provides both diagnosis and treatment for ADHD and other disorders. Dr. Oren Mason is a well-respected doctor in Grand Rapids who specializes in ADHD and other childhood disorders.

I Don’t Want to Medicate my Kid!

The biggest concern I hear from parents when talking about ADHD is over medicating their child. Quite often, parents do not even want to seek an evaluation for ADHD because they are so against the idea of putting their child on medication. As a parent, I completely understand the fear.

You don’t have to medicate your child who has ADHD. However, before making that decision, consider both options. Because ADHD is a disorder involving the neurotransmitters in the brain, medication is viewed an important part of treatment by many professionals. Ask yourself, if your child had another medical diagnosis, such as diabetes, would you still hesitate to give them medication?

Parents who are unsure about taking this route should talk to their doctor about alternative treatments. Though research has not supported their success, some families feel more comfortable treating their children with modifications to diet or environment, neurofeedback, and different supplements.


Whether you suspect your child has ADHD or has already been diagnosed with ADHD, it is wise to educate yourself on the disorder. Here are some websites  that may be helpful in your journey:

Does your child have ADHD? What treatments have you found effective?

Which doctors were helpful to you along the way?

West Michigan ADHD Resources

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