Does My Child Have ADHD?

smiling family photo on the train

I’m still trying to figure this one out – does my child have ADHD?

I’ve got so many questions. Can you be a bit ADHD? Is ADHD on a spectrum? Are we dealing with a lot of ADHD or a little? Or is she just an energetic and confident 5-year-old kid figuring out the world?

When you’re a parent for the first time, you take everything as it comes, and when things are hard, you automatically assume they’re hard for every parent in the same way. And if you’re struggling, you instantly feel like a complete lightweight, not up to the job. 

When it’s your first, it’s harder to take a moment and see things subjectively. You just assume this is what average family life looks like, and you should get with the programme.

Well, I should probably mention now that I’m just speaking for myself here, as I can’t assume everybody experiences things in the same ways I do.

We’ve all known since baby age that our now five-year-old daughter is a little higher strung, shall we say, than other kids. And the arrival of her younger brother, now three, has compounded that feeling, as he’s so different, and yes, I’ll say it, so much easier in many ways.

I think I assumed the school would tell us everything we needed to know. Our daughter started school in September before last, and she’d only just turned 4 in the June before. “She’s much younger than the rest of the year!” family and friends would say… We had a house visit from the teachers before term started, and that was when I first voiced my concerns to the teacher about her hyperactivity.

We’re nearly at the end of the second winter term, and so far, they’ve sat on the fence. I’ve had to bring it up at parents’ evening. Maybe it IS me overthinking things?

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These Are The Signs That My Child Has ADHD:

She’s A Million Miles An Hour

She goes to bed at 7.15 pm ish and is asleep the moment her head hits that pillow. She sleeps soundly until she wakes up early at around 6am.

She’s Gloriously Chatty

Talks non-stop. She’s very bossy. Her teacher told me last month, much to the sound of my own heart breaking, her friends sometimes feel smothered by her. She has a best friend, whom she loves with all her little heart as if it’s almost a fixation. She likes everybody to dance to her tune because she knows best. She’s got some great ideas, and she’s not backward in coming forwards in trying to assert them over everybody.

She’s Very Sensitive To Anybody Upset Or Suffering

She’ll be the first to comfort you if she thinks you’re sad. She makes cards to cheer people up and insists on stopping The Snowman before the end because she can’t bear to see him melt. Even when she’s throwing her worst tantrum and uttering the words “I hate you!” She’ll immediately backtrack with, “I don’t hate you I’m just…” She’s absolutely adorable. So loving and so kind. 

And please, don’t get me wrong, I think these are very valuable and precious character traits. She’s a kid BURSTING with confidence, and I’ve always said she’ll either run the world or be responsible for the earth’s demise… I’m joking, but you get what I’m saying. I don’t want to break that spirit, and I wish I owned even just 10% of it myself.

She’s A Fidgeter 

I was told by her teacher that while she can sit on the mat and stay in one place, she has to be fidgeting with something. She’s not the greatest at listening or concentrating, and I know by the reading homework we do religiously five nights a week (because everybody needs a weekend break, right? Her and us!) that she finds reading hard and has to be pumping her leg, playing with a toy and messing around all at the same time as reading.

I’ve even (gently) held her in my arms and stopped her legs from moving to try to get her to concentrate on the words. That was before I read on Facebook that ADHD kids need to be doing ten trillion other things to be able to concentrate. It’s so confusing to know how to help her. 

She’s The Clown Of The School

She did ballet aged three and a half, and while all the other little girls her age sat patiently obeying the teacher’s every command, she’d mess about mooning people or asking, “Where does that door go?” or be sat there just examining the cracks in the floor.

Last summer’s sports day was an eye-opener. She deliberately self-sabotaged her own efforts and, instead, set about making everybody laugh. She joked about making what appeared to be Usain Bolt’s signature move after every turn while her mates focussed on the task at hand and won everything. Maybe she’s just the world’s next best slapstick comedian? 

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She’s Very Easily Bored And Constantly Distracted

She has more fun touching the sparkling dresses and trying on the sequined high heel shoes in an adult Zara shop than she does going into a toy shop, where she just cannot decide what she wants. And they get to go to a toy shop about three times a year – so it’s not toy shop fatigue!

She’s Pretty Clumsy

If there’s a drink on the table, she’ll knock it over. She doesn’t mean to be, and she cares when these things happen, but she just can’t help it. She can go from hero to zero in two seconds flat, and suddenly, the whole neighbourhood can hear her tantrumming for the strangest of reasons; sometimes, I don’t think she even knows what the issue is. 

This week, she smashed her money box in anger, and the became even more inconsolable when she realised what she'd done. She threatened to cut herself, chop her arm off, that she wanted to die. It was the first time I'd her articulate anything of the sort, and it's been haunting me ever since. 

She Has An Astonishingly Good Long-Term Memory For A 5-Year-Old

She’ll remind me of things I have no idea how she recalls being so young, but when we’re reading a Wandle book, she’ll have to sound out a word she sounded out just two words before. We’ve just been tasked with the book “Strong Trucks” and the word “truck” features in pretty much every sentence, if not twice. Yet that word won’t sink in.

She’s Very Fussy About Her Clothes

This itches, that’s too tight, and any dress with a line above the belly is instantly disregarded as being too uncomfy. She can become instantly enraged if something doesn't fit properly or to her liking.

She’s Still In Nappies At Nighttime

In fact, she’ll pee in her nappy if she thinks she can get away with it quite happily before she’s even jumped into bed. She doesn’t care. Or does she? Maybe her brain is still registering that her nappy is on, so it’s OK to pee? It’s as if life is too exciting for her to stop and take time out for the most important thing – toileting. 

I've just recorded this amazing podcast episode with Sarah Templeton, ADHD coach and counsellor and founder of Head Stuff ADHD Therapy, on spotting the signs of ADHD - even from baby and toddler age, the different types of ADHD and where, when and how to get help (it will be out on next month). It's been a real eye-opener, giving me a few pointers on what to do, although I'm still unsure if I want to label her yet. Labels are a whole new blog post!
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