23 answers

Symptoms of ADHD in a 5 Year Old?

I wanted to ask anyone that has experience with ADHD, if this sounds familiar: My daughter is 5 1/2 and she is very hyper at times (especially when she is tired). When she is tired, she talks or laughs very loud and it is very irritating. She also will not listen to me. After 4pm or so, I feel like giving up. I have a 17 month old and when she is down for a nap, I tell my 5 year old not to wake her and she often will walk right in the room and talk in a such a way to wake up the younger one. She does things like this a lot. It seems that she is quite disrespectful to me and my husband. We have tried different strategies and some work (being very, very patient with her, because she is very sensitive). She is also extremely shy and not very social around other kids. She is quite comfortable talking to adults, but not other kids. She is in Kindergarten and the teacher told me that she thinks that she needs to be evaluated for ADHD and that she often has to repeat instructions to my daughter. She does very well on her report cards, however (I work with her one on one at home, which can be a lot of work. but when she learns something, she learns it very well, no matter how much work it is for me to get her to listen to me.) Are these symptoms of ADHD? Oh, she is also very, very sensitive to smell and taste. She says that if something smells bad, she cannot eat. And she doesn't want to brush her teeth because she hates the taste of toothpaste. After 3 cavities, she has learned to hold her nose while brushing her teeth, so that she doesn't taste the toothpaste (and yes, I have tried EVERY kind of toothpaste in the market, as well as every kind of toothbrush, the reward system, holding her down and brushing her teeth for her, which is A LOT of drama.) I love my daughter very much and I want to understand her and what she is going through. I want to have her evaluated for ADHD but with all the advice to avoid medications, I feel like there is no answer. And I don't know if this is even ADHD. Any advice would be very appreciated and I appreciate you taking the time to read this.

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I knew someone whose daughter had similar reactions. Check out the SPD Foundation - http://www.spdfoundation.net/

Here are some symptoms of sensory processing disorder:

It can affect gifted children as well.
"The higher the level of giftedness in a child, the more likely that introversion is linked with increased responsivity to pain, sound, touch, and smell."

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I have worked with students with special needs for several years and have also evaluated students. This is what I tell my parents who suspect ADHD, If you child is hyper and unable to attend at home and at school then those may be signs. Keep in mind that a child with ADHD cannot decide when to turn it on and off. So if your child is able to pay attention when watching their favorite t.v. show many would say that it is not true ADHD.
I would talk to your doctor about your concerns. The evaluation is a questionire and is subjective and there are TOO many kids diagnosed and put on medication who dont truly have ADHD. There are many alternatives other than medication, such as diet and behavior management, but your pediatrician will know. Hope this helps and remember that many times these things are just age appropriate. Personally I would wait to see if she out grows it before any type of medication.

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Before you start trying to name the problem, get more data. (I speak from experience.) If you name the problem and then seek medical help, the help you get is going to be tailored to the problem you're asking for help with, whether or not it really IS the problem. So get a thorough evaluation done first at someplace like Kennedy Krieger or Children's Hospital. The toothpaste issue and taste sensitivities really sound to me like sensory integration issues, which may or may not co-exist with ADHD. But she's only five--you may just want to keep a journal for a while, to figure out if there are patterns to what she's doing, if it has to do with time of day or diet or whatever....in general, the more info you can gather, the better. BTW, I have two daughters, 8 and 12; both have ADHD and were diagnosed when they were 7. I have WAY too much experience on this subject--feel free to contact me offline if you want to talk.

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That sounds a lot like my son. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 6 between his k year and 1st grade. He did well in school due to us doing a LOT with him at home. We could see in his eyes when he was able to focus and we would grab those few moments (literally moments not minutes) luckily he picked things up quickly. He also did his pre-k years as a peer in a special education class which helped him too becuase the teachers were able to give a lot of one on one attention as well as all the physical and occupational therapists. Due to that he was way ahead in kindergarten but once he hit 1st grade they expect a lot more out of the kids and we were getting lots of feedback from the teacher how he couldn't concentrate or focus. My son too seems to have a lot of sensory issues, is great around adults doesn't always seem to get along with other kids all the time. We talked to his pediatrician about our concerns. For us medicine was the best option. When his symptoms started affecting him socially that is when I really wanted to do something. I could give him extra help in school but I couldn't help him get along with other kids. He started developing motor tics from the stress of other kids rejecting him. Since starting on medicine he is so much better. I can see his self confidence improving. He is actually able to play games with his friends cause he can focus and understand the directions. He is so much happier which makes me so much happier. It definitely won't hurt to have her evaluated. At least you will know what you are dealing with. Plus with a diagnosis you have more power with getting her extra help in school should you choose the no medicine route. I would look at all the options. Would the benefits of medicine outweigh the side effects. The medicine my son is on now has no adverse side effects. His teachers say he is able to focus and concentrate but still be goofy,funny, and silly Shaun when its appropriate. I just don't think you should say no to any specific treatment yet. Good luck with it.

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Your daughter's symptoms sound very much like those of Aspergers...a spectrum disorder generally not as severe as full autism. She may also have a co-morbidity of ADHD (as it is called when more than one issue is involved at the saem time). It is easier and more reliable to diagnose Aspergers or Autism early than ADHD, which can have widely fluctuating symptoms over ages. Aspergers (AS)interventions can be extremley helpful to begin early. The high functioning AS child is a handful and it takes patience and consistency to help them along, especially in school where incorrect social interaction, lack of cuing and complete misunderstanding of nuance, gesture and body language can create extreme problems. Teachers need to always be aware and therefore watchful, as AS is a relatively 'invisible' problem. Kennedy Kreiger is terrific but has very long wait times. If you call with a referral be sure to say you will accept ANY spot and ask them to put you on a cancellation list and tell them you can be seen at either location, Greenstreet or downtown. Also consider Children's Hospital in DC through the child psych dept. They have an autism and developmental delay group as well. Be sure to seek special services and evaluation through your school district. You can never have too much information...fortunately you have been observant of your daughter's differences at her early age, and this is very important.

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I dont know if I can help any but my son who is five sounds alot like your daughter. He is very loud and can talk way too much(I know i laugh to myself can a child even do that)I feel so bad even saying it but...its the truth. I just tell my son there is situations where you can talk and situations where you are quiet. My son is like that too, where for example when he picks common senses things up really quick and putting two and two together but when it came to like his colors...oh my goodness i thought i would lose my mind. I also have a baby well 14 months old and my son is very loud at times. We had his ears tested and they said he had fluid in his ears and he would have bad (where he cant hear) days and good days(where is is fine). That it would get better when he gets alittle older. I think my son has ADHD also but can not confirm it. He goes to school this year so i guess we will see. I believe they are things my son can help because I have seen him be good as in behave for me. I think im just like you though i just want to understand his thinking that way I can help him behavioral and educational wise. If the teacher says to get her tested I would though and as far as the meds go, I mean everyone has their opinions about the bad and good but my opinion is that go with your gut, do what you think is right for your child. People kept telling me nothing was wrong with his hearing and i checked anyways and I found about the fluid, so....good luck...

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I would seriously doubt your daughter has Aspbergers. A LOT of the behaviors you described are totally developmentally appropriate for a 5 1/2 year old, especially one that's tired. Kids that are overly tired sleep less than kids that are well rested. And their behavior is difficult, to say the least when tired.

Ok, but I would very much recommend looking into something called Sensory Processing Disorder. www.sensory-processing-disorder.com (or org, can't remember off hand, I have it bookmarked lol!) or www.SPDfoundation.net

The taste and smell things are dead giveaways. The reason people say it sounds like Aspbergers is the sensory thing. not all kids with SPD have any form of autism, but most all kids with some form of autism have SPD.

It's not something that will hinder her, she will just have to learn as she gets older how to manage it. Occupational Therapy often helps, but may not be covered by your insurance.

Check the symptoms on the websites provided, and see if you don't have an A-HA! moment. :) Good luck!!

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Please, please, please search for the book "Raising your spirited child" before deciding to get her tested or medicated. What your daughter sounds like is a "spirited child" not a ADHD child. Of course if you find that after you use the tips in the book and your daughter still has issues then I would have her tested.
There are a lot of stradegies and helpful things you can do to help her be her best and you to be your best as well. The first thing I would suggest is to turn those negative descriptors you have for her such as "hyper", "irritating", disrespectful" into postive ones. Instead of "Hyper" you can call her "Energetic" and instead of "Irritating" you can call her "Challenging". Instead of "Disrespectful" you can call her "assertive" or "self assured". When you label your daughter she will mold herself to those labels. So why not give her positive ones to mold by? It will also give her a sense of self esteem that she doesn't get from the other negative labels you have for her.

If she has the sensitivity to smells,tastes and sounds and can still cope (such as holding her nose while brushing her teeth) then she is most likely just a spirited child and not having a sensory disorder. Children with sensory disorders cannot adapt or overcome the intense stimulation of smells, tastes, feels and sounds even with help from the parent. Spirited children can be very sensitive to sensory things such as light, noise, textures, smells, tastes and energy. When given the right skills they can cope and get through it.Not all spirited children have the same sensitivities.

Spirited children are just "more" but they are well within the "normal" range for a child. They are more intense, more sensitive, more perceptive, more persistent and energetic. You just need to help them get through their struggles to be themselves when no one understands.

Please check out the book.I had a lot of struggles with my son at an early age and I still feel like he is not listening but until I got this book I thought that he just couldn't focus or listen. Now I realize that it is his nature and temperment and that there is nothing wrong with him. Since using some of the techniques in the book our relationship has blossomed and changed for the better. I wish my mother had this book when I was growing up because I was the same way as a child and am now dealing with self esteem issues that are from the labels that were put on me (difficult,hyper,stubborn,unruly etc). Please look at the way you look at her and see if the labels and words you use to describe her aren't painting a negative picture in your head.

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