How Do I Know If My Child Has Inattention?
Children and adolescents who struggle with inattention are usually more difficult to identify than those children who have hyperactivity. Seems obvious, right? The hyperactivity quickly identifies itself in those kids who are always moving, always bouncing, running, fidgeting, and unable to be still for even a second.
Inattention on the other hand is often more subtle. Inattention may appear as the child who is daydreaming or labeled “spacey”; the child who has difficulty completing homework or assignments in class; the child who is last to turn in his or her test and is still not finished; or the child who rushes through his or her work and makes many careless mistakes.
Inattentive children often only hear part of the directions. For example, if you say to your child, “please wipe down the counters, rinse the dirty dishes, and load the dishwasher” your child may only hear wipe down the counters and you find yourself frustrated that they did not complete the tasks. Your child did not intentionally quit the tasks, more than likely he or she really did not hear the whole set of directions because their brain was somewhere else and if they did, they forgot the rest of the directions.
These are the kids who also frequently “misplace” or “lose” pens, pencils, papers, books (especially library books!), balls, baseball gloves, swim goggles, shin guards, sports helmets, jackets, shoes and the list could go on and on. They leave their backpacks at school or their lunch boxes at home or vice versa. In school, they either forget to write down the assignment, forget to do the assignment, or forget to turn in the assignment. The backpack may look like a trash heap with papers stuffed together and no system of organization.
Sometimes having a difficult job, like writing a book report, is overwhelming and getting your child to start on the task is like trying to light a piece of soaking wet firewood in a camp fire. This is the same child, however, who could spend HOURS playing a video game.
The explanation: Inattention in ADHD is due to low dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. This chemical imbalance leads to all of the above symptoms; however, if your child is very interested in something and that something is a fast moving screen, the dopamine is naturally increased by both the interest and the fast moving screen. In other words, his or her brain is stimulated/focused by the interesting game but not stimulated/focused by the book report.
Hence, treatment for ADHD is designed to improve the dopamine consistently instead of periodically. The goal of ADHD therapy is to make the correct diagnosis, balance the brain chemistry as optimally as possible so that dopamine and norepinephrine allow your child’s brain to function efficiently even when completing a boring task. ADHD medications all work by increasing the dopamine and norepinephrine in your child’s brain thus allowing focus and concentration on even the most mundane tasks like loading the dishwasher!
If you recognized your child, teenager, or yourself in the above descriptions, please contact our office.
Do these symptoms sound familiar?
- Does not pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes, for example homework
- Has difficulty attending to what needs to be done
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Does not follow through when given directions and fails to finish activities (not due to refusal or failure to understand)
- Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
- Avoids, dislikes, or does not want to start tasks that require ongoing mental effort
- Loses things needed for tasks or activities (toys, assignments, pencils, books)
- Is easily distracted by noises or other stimuli
- Is forgetful in daily activities
If any of these symptoms sound familiar then please…
Call us today for an appointment at: 864-305-1662