Many children with ADHD show signs of the disorder before they reach school age. But it’s in school, when they are having trouble meeting expectations for kids in their grade, that most are referred for diagnosis.
ADHD is one of the first things that’s suspected when a child’s behavior in class, or performance on schoolwork, is problematic. A child who can’t seem to sit still, who blurts out answers in class without raising his hand, who doesn’t finish his homework, who seems to be daydreaming when the teacher gives instructions—these are well-known symptoms of ADHD.
But these are also behaviors that can be a result of other factors, from anxiety to trauma to just being younger than most of the kids in the class, and hence a little less mature.
That’s why it’s important for teachers and parents both to be aware of what ADHD looks like in the classroom, and how it might be confused with other things that could be influencing a child’s behavior. Observing kids carefully is especially important when kids are too young to be able to articulate what they are feeling. And referring struggling kids for diagnosis and appropriate support can help them succeed in school and other parts of their lives, too.