When to See a Doctor for your School Age Child with ADD/ADHD

By Eileen Bailey

When a child enters first grade, he/she has his/her first experience with needing to sit still, pay attention for extended periods of time, homework and be responsible for their actions.  For children with ADHD, these demands are often hard.  For this reason, ADHD is often diagnosed within the first few years of children entering school. 

As parents may have accepted their child’s behaviors as part of their personality, including making allowances for high-energy days or times when their child seems not to listen to or follow directions,  teachers interact with children in a different way and in a more demanding setting.  They will see your child’s behaviors as compared to other students the same age.  Teachers are not qualified to make a diagnosis of ADHD but they can provide you with insight into your child’s behavior during the school day. 

Sometimes, stressful situations in a child’s life, such as divorce, death, moving or a new sibling can create behaviors that mimic ADHD behaviors.  This is why doctors will look at behaviors over an extended period.  Symptoms for ADHD must be present for at least six months. 

If you feel that your child may have ADHD, keep track of the behaviors they exhibit.  Try to determine if these behaviors were present for at least six months.  Ask for feedback from their teacher or other caregivers, keep a log of how long it takes to complete homework, how often your child loses school papers or forgets to either complete or hand in homework.  Write down specific examples that you can share with your physician.

Additionally, the guidelines below are not a diagnostic tool but may be helpful in determining if you should seek medical attention for your child:

  • Is your child having behavioral problems at school or at home?
  • Does your child have difficulty with forming or keeping friendships?
  • Does your child have underdeveloped social skills?
  • Do you or the school notice a difference between your child’s intellectual abilities and their school performance?
  • Does your child exhibit ADHD symptoms such as: inattention, not following directions, losing things often, impulsiveness or hyperactivity, in school and at home?

If you feel your child may have ADHD talk to your physician. 

Suggested Reading:

10 Medical Conditions That Share Symptoms with ADD/ADHD

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