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Inattentive ADHD: 11 Signs Your Child May Have It
If your child is struggling with ADHD, as a parent you are also struggling… to understand… to evaluate… to cope… to find solutions… to advocate… and to make important decisions about how best to protect and help your son or a daughter There are many strategies, some more controversial than others, that parents may want to consider for dealing with ADHD. But the first step is to learn more about what it is, and then confirm if this is what your child actually has.
what is ADHD?
It is one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children. If left untreated, ADHD can lead to poor school/work performance, poor social relationships and a general feeling of low self-esteem. ADD / ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a very real condition that is characterized by poor attention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. It’s about how the brain sends and receives information.
The brain is made up of millions of interconnected nerve cells called neurons, which need to communicate with each other in order for us to function. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry messages back and forth between neurons. Dopamine, for example, is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate behavior. If you lack adequate amounts of dopamine, neurons in the frontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for attention, do not communicate effectively. In ADHD, something funky happens with this necessary intercellular communication. Some evidence suggests that ADHD may be caused by a genetic deficiency of specific neurotransmitters. It is also believed that the neuronal receptors that recognize dopamine do not work properly in people with ADHD.
So in practical terms, you could say that the brains of these children have a processing a problem where mental commands such as “focus”, “store information”, “evaluate”, or “do not act” are given lost in translation. The result is frustrating disconnect between their intelligence…and their achievement; their character…and their behavior.
ADHD is often first detected when a child enters school, as attention and behavior problems are more prominent in this structured environment. Imagine a classroom with several children who can’t sit still, who never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions no matter how clearly you present them, or who throw out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Although they are often very bright, articulate, artistic and creative, or excel in sports… Hyperactive children are usually described as bouncing off the wall, disruptive, disobedient, disrespectful or troublemakers. They may have trouble sitting still or waiting their turn. Their impulsive behaviors can lead them to “act before thinking”. Their short attention span and distractibility become more noticeable. And their social relationships, grades, and schoolwork begin to rapidly decline as they fall further and further behind.
So far we have described the most common and easily recognizable face of ADHD. But what about a lesser known, less obvious, but equally debilitating version of this disability:
Inattentive, or “Winnie the Pooh” ADHD
If Hyperactive children are the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease”, Inattentive children are the “invisible silent sufferers” of ADHD. They both share the same neurotransmitter deficiency… their brains both have a processing problem… they both have disconnects between their potential and their performance. But how this manifests outwardly is literally like night and day.
Unlike Hyperactive children, Inattentive ADHD children are usually described as well-behaved, quiet and introverted, “space cadets” who are often in their own world, slow, lazy, irresponsible, easily bored, socially awkward, and sometimes helpless. They don’t attract a negative reaction, seem to be paying attention, have trouble speaking up for themselves, and are therefore overlooked and often undiagnosed. Although this type of ADHD is thought to occur more often in girls; boys can have it too. My son does.
If Hyperactive Kids are “Indiscriminate Fire on All Cylinders,” Inattentive Kids are “Failure to Launch.”
Normally, the brain prefrontal cortex will speed upactivity when there is work to focus on. However, with Inattentive ADHD the prefrontal cortex actually slows downwhen asked to concentrate on work such as reading or homework. This part of the brain looks normal when “at rest,” but actually seems to start falling asleep when asked to “go to work.” Look at it this way; when it’s time to pay attention to the Inattentive child’s brain sends a “stick and stay” commandbut instead gets permission to “wander”.
This has been documented and observed hundreds of times with subjects on EEG. When at rest, the brain wave activity is quite normal. But after the subject is asked to read, or do a math worksheet, the subject’s brainwave activity begins to look like the subject is falling asleep. And often they do fall asleep! This makes it very difficult to pay attention to school work, do homework, listen to the teacher, clean your room and basically “stay on task”.
How to Recognize a Child with Inattentive ADHD
My son Gabriel has always been popular (if a bit shy and reserved), well liked by his teachers, and an honor student in an academically demanding school. He was obsessed and a master of all kinds of fast-paced computer games. Then, in 3rd grade, inexplicably, he crashed and burned.
Not to overstate it, it was one of the worst years of his life and mine. Suddenly he couldn’t seem to keep up…fell further and further behind…began to think he was stupid…began to dread school and homework…refused to even try…and just wanted to. mentally abandon His dad thought it was “just a phase” and I was overreacting. His teacher thought Gabriel was sweet, but a little slow and disorganized. Since 1st grade I felt a growing concern that something was wrong (Gabriel’s handwriting, speaking skills, comprehension and standardized test scores were not where I thought they should be). But his teachers thought I was worrying unnecessarily, and since he seemed to be doing well, I pushed aside my doubts. That is, until the 3rd grade where, all of a sudden, he started this painful and catastrophic nose picking.
Confused and worried, I searched high and low for answers until I finally pieced together enough information to realize that Inattentive ADHD was the root of Gabriel’s difficulties. Do any or all of the following characteristics describe your child?
11 Signs Your Child May Have Inattentive ADHD
- Becomes overwhelmed easily; can only focus on one thing at a time.
- Has trouble starting and/or finishing tasks (often forgets to do homework, family chores, can take “forever” to finish homework).
- May dreams while the morning dresses; a fixed gaze can mask a wandering mind.
- Is distracted by internal thoughts and external stimuli. (The brain may be on 16 channels, but the body seems exhausted.)
- Bored easily…doesn’t like to read…seems “hypnotized” by the hype of fast action video games and TV shows.
- Has a lethargic and apathetic appearance; even when man thinks quickly, he quickly tires; is often called lazy and unmotivated.
- Does not get needs met in the classroom because he or she does not interrupt others; tend to be quiet, shy or withdrawn resulting in cognitive deficits that are overlooked.
- Has social skills problems (may be quiet, withdrawn, or perhaps shy; has trouble with conversation and figuring out rules of social interaction; has trouble reading social cues; tends to be lonely and aloof). Unfortunately, this passivity can cause the person to be an attractive target for bullies.
- Not performing up to potential; is slow at processing; appears confused or stressed; has difficulty synthesizing and organizing ideas; responds slowly to questions.
- Is saved again; uses learned helplessness and passive manipulation; feels powerless; becomes chronically dependent.
- Could be on an emotional roller coaster (anxious, depressed, explosive temper, grumpy, sarcastic, rude or abrupt).
OMG. Looking at this compiled list of typical behaviors I finally understoodwhat happened with my son It was so accurate it was almost scary. I tried to record his teacher’s help, and she listened and nodded politely, but didn’t know what I was talking about. I went to his guidance counselors. They advised me that the quickest way for them to step in and help was for me to get a formal diagnosis from his pediatrician.
If You Suspect Inattentive ADHD, Get Your Child Evaluated and Diagnosed.
These are tests that are commonly used to confirm a diagnosis of ADHD.
- Parent-completed Child Behavior Checklist
- Teacher Report Form (TRF) of the Child Behavior Checklist
- Conners Parent and Teacher Rating Scales
- ADD-H: Comprehensive Teacher Rating Scale
- Barkley Home Situation Questionnaire (HSQ)
- Barkley School Situations Questionnaire (SSQ)
My son had the Woodcock-Johnson Cognitive Skills test and an evaluation by his pediatrician. While I had conflicted feelings about putting such a potentially negative label on my son, I was relieved to finally have a real medical diagnosis. With this in hand, I was able to tap into help and resources previously unavailable at his school. And finally, I could begin to come up with a workable plan to help my son manage and meet the considerable challenges of Inattentive ADHD.
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