How To Deal With An Emotional 11 Year Old Boy Inattentive ADHD: 11 Signs Your Child May Have It

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Inattentive ADHD: 11 Signs Your Child May Have It

If your child is struggling with ADHD, you as a parent are also struggling… to understand… to assess… to cope… to find solutions… to advocate… and to make important decisions about how best to protect and help your son or daughter. There are a number of strategies, some more controversial than others, that parents may want to consider to deal with ADHD. But the first step is to learn more about what it is and then confirm if it’s what your child really has.

What is ADHD?

It is one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children. If left untreated, ADHD can lead to poor school/work performance, poor social relationships, and a general sense of low self-esteem. ADD/ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a very real condition characterized by poor attention and distraction and/or hyperactive and impulsive behavior. The question is how the brain sends and receives information.

The brain is made up of millions of interconnected nerve cells called neurons, which must communicate with each other in order for us to function. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry messages back and forth between neurons. Dopamine, for example, is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate behavior. If you lack an adequate amount of dopamine, the neurons in the frontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for attention, do not communicate effectively. In ADHD, something funky happens with this necessary intercellular communication. Some evidence suggests that ADHD may be caused by a genetic deficiency of specific neurotransmitters. It is also believed that the neuronal receptors that recognize dopamine do not work properly in people with ADHD.

So, in a practical sense, it could be said that the brains of these children have processing problem, where mental commands such as “focus”, “store information”, “evaluate” or “do not act” are obtained lost in translation. The result is frustrating disconnect between their intelligence…and their achievement; their character…and their behavior.

ADHD is often first detected when a child starts school, as attention and behavior problems are more prominent in this structured environment. Imagine a classroom with several children who can’t sit still, who never seem to listen, who don’t follow directions no matter how clearly they are stated, or who make inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Although they are often very bright, articulate, artistic and creative, or excel at sports… Hyperactive children are usually described as bouncing off the wall, disruptive, disobedient, disrespectful or troublemakers. They may have trouble sitting still or waiting their turn. Their impulsive behavior can lead them to “act before thinking”. Their short attention span and distraction become more noticeable. And their social relationships, grades, and schoolwork begin to rapidly go downhill as they fall further and further behind.

So far, we have described the most common and easily recognizable face of ADHD. But what about a lesser known, less obvious, but equally debilitating version of this disability:

Inattentive or “Winnie the Pooh” ADHD

If hyperactive children are the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease,” inattentive children are the “invisible silent sufferers” of ADHD. Both share the same neurotransmitter deficiency…both their brains have a processing problem…both have a disconnect between their potential and performance. But how it manifests on the outside is literally like night and day.

Unlike hyperactive children, children with inattentive ADHD are usually described as well-behaved, quiet and introverted, “space cadets” who are often in their own world, slow, lazy, irresponsible, easily bored, socially awkward, and sometimes helpless. They don’t cause negative reactions, seem to pay attention, have trouble speaking up for themselves, so they are overlooked and often undiagnosed. Although this type of ADHD is thought to occur more often in girls; boys can too. My son has.

If hyperactive children are “Indiscriminately firing on all cylinders”, inattentive children are “Failure to Launch”.

Normally, the brain the prefrontal cortex will speed upactivity when there is work to concentrate on. However, in inattentive ADHD the prefrontal cortex actually slows downwhen asked to focus on work such as reading or doing homework. This part of the brain looks normal when it is “resting”, but actually seems to start falling asleep when it is asked to “go to work”. Look at it this way; when it’s time to pay attention to the Inattentive Child’s brain sends a hold and stay commandbut instead gets permission to “wander”.

This has been documented and observed hundreds of times with EEG subjects. When resting, brain wave activity is fairly normal. But when the subject is asked to read or do a math worksheet, their brain activity begins to look like the subject is drifting off to sleep. And they often fall asleep! This makes it very difficult to pay attention to school work, do homework, listen to the teacher, clean your room and basically “stay on task”.

How to recognize a child with inattentive ADHD

My son Gabriel has always been popular (although a bit shy and reserved), loved by his teachers, and an honor student at an academically demanding school. He was obsessed with and mastered all kinds of fast-paced computer games. Then in 3rd grade, he inexplicably crashed and burned.

Not to exaggerate, it was one of the worst years of his life and mine. Suddenly he couldn’t take it anymore… he fell further and further behind… he started thinking of himself as stupid… he started dreading school and homework… he refused to try… and he just wanted to mentally give up His dad thought it was “just a phase” and I was overreacting. His teacher thought Gabriel was cute, but a little slow and disorganized. From first grade on, I felt a growing concern that something was wrong (Gabriel’s handwriting, verbal skills, comprehension, and standardized test scores were not where I thought they should be). But his teachers thought I was worrying unnecessarily, and since he seemed to be doing well, I dismissed my suspicions. That is, until the 3rd grade where, suddenly, this painful and catastrophic dive began.

Confused and upset, I searched for answers until I finally gathered enough information to realize that inattentive ADHD was at the root of Gabriel’s difficulties. Do some or all of the following characteristics describe your child?

11 Signs Your Child Has Inattentive ADHD

  • Easily becomes overwhelmed; can only concentrate on one thing at a time.
  • Has trouble starting and/or finishing tasks (often forgets to do homework, family chores, can take “forever” to complete homework).
  • Let him daydream as he dresses in the morning; a fixed gaze can mask a wandering mind.
  • He is distracted by internal thoughts and external stimuli. (The brain may be on 16 channels, but the body looks exhausted.)
  • Bored easily…dislikes reading…seems “hypnotized” by the hyperstimulation of fast-paced action video games and TV shows
  • He has a lethargic and apathetic appearance; even when a person thinks quickly, he gets tired quickly; often called lazy and unmotivated.
  • Does not meet classroom needs because he or she does not disrupt others; tends to be quiet, shy, or withdrawn, leading to overlooked cognitive deficits.
  • Has problems with social skills (may be quiet, withdrawn or perhaps shy; has trouble making small talk and figuring out the rules of social interaction; has trouble reading social cues; tends to be lonely and aloof). Unfortunately, this passivity can make a person an attractive target for bullies.
  • It doesn’t live up to its potential; it is processed slowly; looks confused or stressed; has difficulty synthesizing and organizing ideas; slow to answer questions.
  • He saves himself more than once; uses learned helplessness and passive manipulation; feels powerless; becomes chronically addicted.
  • May be on an emotional rollercoaster (anxious, depressed, explosive, grumpy, sarcastic, rude or impetuous).

OH MY GOD. Looking at this compiled list of typical behaviors I finally figured it outwhat was going on with my son. It was so precise it was almost terrifying. I tried to enlist the help of his teacher, and she listened and nodded politely, but she had no idea what I was talking about. I went to his advisers. I was advised that the quickest way to intervene and help was to get an official diagnosis from his pediatrician.

If you suspect inattentive ADHD, have your child evaluated and diagnosed.

These are tests that are commonly used to confirm a diagnosis of ADHD.

  • Child Behavior Checklist completed by parents
  • Child Behavior Checklist Teacher Report Form (TRF).
  • Conners Parent-Teacher Rating Scales
  • ADD-H: Comprehensive Teacher Rating Scale
  • Barkley Home Situation Questionnaire (HSQ)
  • Barkley School Situation Questionnaire (SSQ)

My son had a Woodcock-Johnson cognitive skills test and evaluation by his pediatrician. Although I had mixed feelings about putting such a potentially negative label on my son, I was relieved to finally receive a proper medical diagnosis. With this in hand, I was able to tap into help and resources previously unavailable at his school. And I could finally begin to come up with a workable plan to help my son deal with the significant challenges of inattentive ADHD.

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