Does Your Son have ADHD or is it Boy Behavior?
I’m often asked, “How do you determine if this is normal boy behavior or behavior that may be Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?” You can probably arrive at an answer on your own, but I recommend you consider these three questions to know if your son’s behavior is unusual:
- How frequently does the disruptive behavior occur?
- How long do your son’s disruptive behaviors last?
- How intense is your son’s behavior during this time?
Think about how frequently your son’s disruptive behaviors occur. Once an hour? Once a day? Once per week? It is unusual for a child to get into trouble on a daily basis. The second question was, “How long do your son’s disruptive behaviors last?” Are the behaviors brief or long and drawn-out? Think about a boy who is upset because he wants to play video games but has to do his homework. Depending on their age, most boys become upset and huff around, and yet recover within an age-appropriate amount of time. Time tends to heal things with most boys. But take the same situation for the boy with ADHD. You give him a 5-minute warning to prepare him for the change. Then you give a 2-minute warning that video game time is almost finished. Still, he just can’t seem to stop playing or being upset that game time is over. It takes the boy with ADHD much longer to redirect his focus from one fixation toward something else, particularly something he perceives as unpleasant (like homework). At home and school, boys with ADHD are constantly required to shift their thoughts. Boys who have difficulty with cognitive flexibility often dislike unexpected changes in routine.
The third question was, “How intense is your son’s behavior during this time?” Boys with ADHD usually display intense and quick to change emotions since a characteristic of ADHD is difficulty self-regulating emotions.
The most thorough way to diagnose ADD/ADHD is by having an evaluation that rules out learning or processing problems as the cause for your son’s difficulty. After completing the evaluation process, you will know if there is a diagnosis and the steps to take to help your son. While some people only have behavioral rating forms filled out to diagnose ADHD, these forms can be subjective. I believe your son should also complete some tests of attention because it actually lets you know more about what’s going on inside your boy.
Dr. Forgan specializes in school neuopsychology with an emphasis on ADHD/ ADD, dyslexia, stealth dyslexia, learning issues, information processing problems, and gifted testing. Call Dr. Forgan at 625-4125