Five Indicators Your Child Might Have ADHD

Young boy holds ADHD text written on sheet of paper

For parents, determining what’s normal and what’s not with children is often a tough road, especially when it comes to challenging behavior. It can be difficult to know if your child is just bored and acting out or if he or she might have a behavioral health issue such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

According to Cynthia Mester, PhD, LCPC, director of The Children’s Center, a program of Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, here are several indicators for ADHD:

  • Difficulty sustaining tasks or play
  • Not listening when spoken to
  • Not following through with instructions at school and at home
  • Difficulty organizing tasks
  • Avoiding tasks that require sustained mental effort

A child who is bored may only struggle with these behaviors during a particular class or subject matter or in a particular environment. For example, the child could be bored at school but not at home, or vice versa. It’s when the child is unable to function that warning bells sound.

“Though some of the signs of ADHD also align with boredom, the important thing to remember is ADHD can significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to function,” Mester said. “This inability can translate to failing grades, limited friendships, detentions or suspensions at school, being grounded at home or getting into verbal or physical arguments with others.”

What can you do?

Mester recommends the following steps for parents or caregivers to help a child who may be struggling with ADHD:

    1. Contact a professional. Talk to the child’s primary care provider or have the child evaluated by a mental health professional so an appropriate treatment plan can be developed. This may include medication.
    2. Provide skill-building opportunities. Organization, time management and self-reflection all play an important role for kids with ADHD.
    3. Read up. Education about ADHD and support for parents also can play an important role in treatment. After all, helping a child manage related symptoms is a family affair.

For more information or help for children with ADHD symptoms, call The Children’s Center at 757-7700 or visit MHCCI.org. Walk-in assessments for children and teens are also available.

Cynthia Mester, PhD, LCPC

Cynthia Mester, PhD, LCPC

Dr. Cynthia Mester is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and director of The Children’s Center at Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois. She holds a doctorate degree in educational psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois Springfield. Prior to joining MHCCI in 2008, Dr. Mester was an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. She has published and copyrighted two curriculum-training programs, been first author on six published papers, and presented at more than 50 conferences held within Illinois and across the nation.

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