As salamu alaikum dear sister,
Shokran for writing to our live session with your concerns. As I understand your issue, you are concerned whether or not your child has ADHD.
Possible ADHD or Anxiety Disorder
ADHD is a rather common but treatable disorder. There are other disorders or issues which may present as ADHD such as anxiety, stress, or depression, bu are not ADHD. As you do not know if your child has ADHD, the first thing to do insha’Allah would be to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician for an evaluation or to get a recommendation to a child therapist for evaluation. Part of the evaluation process includes getting records from your child’s school pertaining to grades, behaviors, as well as having the teachers fill out questionnaires about your child. The counselor will also ask you to complete various forms and behavioral scales. This helps determine if it may be ADHD or something else. A correct diagnosis is most important because it will determine they treatment modality.
Signs of ADHD
There are certain signs and symptoms which may indicate that a child has ADHD. Briefly, if your child has difficulty paying attention, is hyperactive, and impulsive, these may be warning signs. More specific signs are fidgeting, squirming while seated, getting up and moving around in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom, running or dashing around or in situations where it is inappropriate, being unable to play, engage in homework, or hobbies quietly, constantly in motion or “on the go”, talking nonstop, blurting out answers before a question has been completed, having trouble waiting his or her turn, interrupting or intruding on others, for example in conversations, games, or activities and so forth (1). Please do keep in mind though that this list is not inclusive nor is it indicative hat your child does have ADHD. As stated, there can be other reasons for these behaviors thus it is important that your child have a professional evaluation.
Signs of Anxiety Disorder
Children with anxiety may present differently. Anxiety is based on fear and worry. Some may worry excessively, feel they are sick, have multiple physical complaints, become clingy, appear jittery, short of breath, feel afraid or avoid social situations. Other symptoms may include agitation, restlessness, inattention, poor focus, tantrums, crying, refusing to go to school, meltdowns, difficulties with transitions, problems with sleep. Often children with anxiety due poorly in school. As illustrated, it can be difficult to determine if it is ADHD or anxiety as there are some similar and overlapping symptoms.
Depending on the diagnosis, treatment can vary. Usually for ADHD it is a combination of medication and behavioral therapy for the child and parent skills training and stress management classes for parents. Behavioral plans are usually developed for the parents to follow at home. The school is usually involved in the treatment process to ensure continuity at school and too optimize the learning environment. For anxiety disorders, treatment usually involves cognitive behavioral therapy and mediation. Treatment can include just therapy without medication depending on the severity.
Creating a Conducive Home environment
For children with either anxiety disorder or ADHD, home environments should be structured yet relaxing. Structures provides a child with a routine. Relaxation provides a sense of safety. Parents should also be aware of their own behaviors as a child will learn from their parents’ behaviors (modeling). For example, if a parent is anxious and displays maladaptive coping behaviors in response to anxiety, the child will learn that this is the way to handle these feelings. Homes should be as stress free as possible with lots of relaxing activities. In fact, practicing relaxation techniques with your child such as deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation are very beneficial. Parents should encourage their children to talk about what they are feeling and support them by providing activities that reduce negative feelings and/or thoughts. When the child successfully manages an impulse or anxiety symptom, reward them. This builds confidence and encourages future attempts at utilizing coping skills.
Insha’Allah, please do take your child in for an evaluation to determine if it is ADHD, anxiety, stress or something else. By following the brief tips for a conducive home for your child’s situation, you can insha’Allah help them over come current issues as well as provide them with a platform of coping skills for things which may arise in the future. You are in our prayers, we wish you the best.
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