The Difference Between Bad Behaviour and ADHD
When poor behaviour is exhibited by a child at home or at school, it should be understood that it means something. The challenge for a parent or teacher is to understand why a child is behaving badly, so that appropriate actions can be taken to address the underlying problems. However, working out why a child is behaving badly is no easy task and there are a wide range of possibilities that have to be considered. Difficult questions have to be asked with much soul searching by the responsible adults. Does the bad behaviour reflect some failure in parenting or teaching skills, or is there some other explanation?
Very commonly family problems can spark emotional outbursts in a child; poor parenting skills combined with a lack of structure and discipline at home can have consequences on a child's behaviour at school. If there is no immediately obvious explanation for a child's behaviour in their home life, then teachers must consider the possibilities of a learning disability such as dyslexia, or an exceptionally bright child who needs more mental stimulation from their education. Occasionally, the problems may arise as a result of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Considering ADHDADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is characterised by a combination of hyperactivity, impulsivity and an inability to focus or pay attention to a task in hand; however, not every child who is overly hyperactive, inattentive, or impulsive has this disorder. Nearly all children and even adults will occasionally blurt out things they didn't mean to say; everyone is capable of darting about from one task to another, losing focus and becoming disorganised and forgetful.
When there is no simple explanation for a child's bad behaviour, it is time to seek expert help; but how can a specialist tell if the problems are caused by ADHD?
Ruling Out Other PossibilitiesWhen dealing with children there is one universal truth with regards to behaviour: children usually like to please their peers, and they do not like it when they perceive they are in trouble. This remains true even when a child may have ADHD, and there are very few situations where a child will deliberately seek trouble on a continual basis. If a child is behaving badly, there is a reason.
Frequently, poor behaviour at school can arise where a child is exceptionally bright. A lack of intellectual challenges in the classroom can result in a 'bored' child diverting their energies to disruptive or inattentive behaviour. As a result, a range of tests will be carried out to determine a child's intelligence and detect any learning difficulties that may be present.
If attention deficit disorder is still suspected, a specialist will carry out a range of tests to exclude the possibility of a range of physical and mental conditions that can mimic ADD such as a developmental disorder, schizophrenia or some other discernable illness. The specialist will also carry out a comprehensive and thorough evaluation using diagnostic interview techniques and will take a very thorough family history.
When all other medical possibilities have been excluded, ADHD can be considered as a possible diagnosis and detailed investigations and questioning of both parents and teachers will be required to determine the patterns of behaviour are consistent and persistent.
Attention Deficit Disorder Diagnosis?There are a number of criteria that have to be met for a diagnosis of ADD to be made. As a general guide, the symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity must have persisted for at least six months and they must be affecting the child's educational and social development. The symptoms must have appeared early in life and become noticeable before the child reached the age of seven, and they must be excessive and occurring far more frequently than would be expected from other children of a similar age.
The behaviours also have to result in real problems and handicaps in at least two areas of a person's life, regardless of their age. For children, the key areas to consider will be the effects of their behaviours in the classroom, in the playground, at home, in a social setting and within a local community. A child who shows ADD behaviours but whose ability to form friendships or make progress at school are unaffected would not be diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder; a child who appears to be excessively hyperactive on the sports field or playground but does not show these behaviours in the classroom or at home would also not have the condition.