It’s not a secret parenting is tough. Even tougher is meandering through mounds of information about “normal” behavior and expected milestones.
In reality, every kid is different. No two journeys through childhood will look alike, but what if our kid seems a little farther off the path than they should be? What if the hyperactivity is preventing them from learning or what if their inability to concentrate in certain settings is priming them for failure? What if the behavior patterns you are noticing are becoming increasingly problematic? What if it’s more than just an excitable personality or a case of the day dreams?
Children who are inattentive, forgetful, disorganized, easily distracted, unable to follow directions or unable to listen or sustain attention may suffer from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
ADHD can also cause hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. Children may fidget; run, climb or talk excessively; blurt answers or interrupt; or be unable to stay seated or wait their turn. Some children have more problems with attention, others have more problems with hyperactivity, and others have problems in both areas.
Another possible diagnosis is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Individuals with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) have difficulties understanding information they hear, especially in poor listening environments with background noise. The sensory system that brings speech into the body (the ear) is working correctly, so there is no hearing loss, but the part of the brain that analyzes and interprets the information are not.
People with APD have trouble paying attention to and remembering information that is presented orally (spoken); instead they cope better with visually acquired information. They often have problems following spoken, multi-step directions, as they typically heard and understand or remember one command at a time.
Individuals with APD can appear to have poor listening skills, almost like they have a hearing loss. They can also appear to be slow in processing information and might avoid locations with background or loud noise such as restaurants, movie theaters and other social situations. They may also display behavioral problems due to frustration from not clearly hearing and understanding the information said to them.
Reading the list of symptoms, it might seem as though most kids could fall in one of these diagnoses. But the reality is while many kids may be disorganized and lack the ability to focus from time to time kids with a ADHD or APD experience a diminished capacity to learn and flourish due to the constant nature of their symptoms.
If you have concerns, talk with your child’s doctor. ADHD can only be diagnosed after a thorough evaluation by a health professional with input from a parent, other family members and teachers. If you believe your child may be affected by APD you will need to be referred to an audiologist for further evaluation.
The good news is that treatments for both disorders have advanced over time. Cultivating a collaborative spirit among your child’s care team, including parents, family members, teachers and health professionals will give your child the best chance for success!
Capital Region Physicians is equipped to provide comprehensive resources to evaluate, diagnose and treat your child in a team oriented environment. The pediatricians at Capital Region Pediatrics are skilled in these areas, and Dr. Richard Iken has a special interest in behavioral disorders. Keri Salvatore, AuD., is an audiologist with Capital Region Physicians – ENT & Audiology and provides evaluations for children, as well as adults.
If you have concerns about ADHD, APD or similar challenges for your child, please contact your primary care provider or Capital Region Physicians – Pediatric Associates to begin the process of evaluation of these school and behavior problems.