Watch Out for Early Signs of ADHD

An expert helps parents understand the symptoms

boy in daydream

Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) exhibit an inability to sit still or focus. But parents may be able to identify some of the signs of ADHD very early on. Mike Manos, PhD, treats ADHD at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. He says it can be detected as early as age 3.

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He says very young children with ADHD typically are hyperactive or highly impulsive. “These are the kids who want to run out into a parking lot without even looking and parents have to watch them all of the time,” he says.

Dr. Manos says children with ADHD have a short attention span, and their focus constantly changes direction like a leaf blowing in the wind. The signs become more apparent when a child starts school. That’s because it’s the first time the child is required to direct his or her attention to something they may not be entirely interested in doing. But Dr. Manos says the symptoms will really show up in the fourth grade.  

While you start seeing an effect in second and third grade, there’s a big effect in fourth grade, he says. “That’s when children stop learning to read and start reading to learn. Now they have to direct attention,” Dr. Manos says.

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Kids typically find medications to be very effective treatments for the disorder, he says. “They must also be taught coping skills they can use in the classroom,” Dr. Manos adds.

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