Being easily distracted in class or taking a long time to finish schoolwork may seem like hallmarks of ADHD, but consider these overlooked causes:
Undiagnosed learning disorder
There are some things that may look like a child is distracted – such as looking everywhere but at the schoolwork in front of him – that could actually be a learning disorder, such as dyslexia. Or perhaps he is simply struggling with a certain subject in school and looks for any distraction. As well, some children have auditory processing problems and will miss what the teacher is saying.
Children with OCD can be flooded with obsessive thoughts, which is an additional source of distraction. They might also focus on the compulsions of rituals, like wanting to go to the washroom to wash his hands. When kids in the class are obsessing about things, it can look to the teacher like they are just not paying attention. There are many teachers who are unaware of the symptoms of OCD and just assume it’s ADHD.
For a child with chronic anxiety, it can be extremely difficult to focus in order to complete a given task at the given time, such as in class. They may feel more comfortable doing schoolwork at home where there is less pressure to perform. They can stress about making a mistake in front of the class and embarrassing themselves. Kids with anxiety issues can have trouble with perfectionism and worry that things aren’t exactly good enough and will take a lot longer with the assignment.
A comprehensive look
Experts say it’s important to determine if the inattention is outside the typical range and “is one of the three key symptoms of ADHD, along with impulsivity and hyperactivity.” The child’s age should also be taken into account and be compared to others of his own age, not everyone in his grade. For example, many times a child’s immaturity can be mistakenly diagnosed as ADHD.
bp Magazine and bphope.com are dedicated to inspiring and providing information to people living with bipolar disorder and their families, caregivers, and health-care professionals. bp Magazine works to empower those diagnosed with bipolar to live healthy, fulfilling lives by delivering first-person success stories—including celebrity profiles and essays by people with lived experience—as well as informative articles addressing topics such as relationships, employment, sleep, exercise, stress reduction, mood management, treatments, and cutting-edge news and research.
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