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Is Your Child Dealing With ADHD? Signs & Symptoms of ADHD in 7 Year Olds

Understanding – or trying to understand! – the behaviour of a 7 year old can be an adventure in itself, filled with energy, curiosity, and boundless exploration of the world.
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Is Your Child Dealing With ADHD? Signs & Symptoms of ADHD in 7 Year Olds

21/01/2024
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Understanding – or trying to understand! – the behaviour of a 7 year old can be an adventure in itself, filled with energy, curiosity, and boundless exploration of the world.

At this age, children are developing unique personalities, and it’s not uncommon for them to display a wide range of behaviours.

However, for some parents, distinguishing between typical childhood exuberance and signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can be challenging.

  • Globally, childhood prevalence of ADHD is estimated to be at around 5% (NICE).
  • In the USA – where rates of diagnosis tend to be highest – the figure is approximately 9%.
  • As for the UK, researchers estimate a prevalence of 3.62% among boys and 0.82% among girls (ADHD UK). (However, note that gender disparities in ADHD diagnosis do exist.)

ADHD in 7 year olds may manifest in behaviours such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, and difficulty sustaining attention. Yet, these signs can overlap with the natural tendencies and diverse development of children in this age group. It’s this overlap that makes identifying ADHD a challenge.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the signs and symptoms of ADHD in 7 year olds, shedding light on what parents should look for and when it might be time to seek professional guidance.

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Why 7 Years Old?

At and around the age of 7 is an important moment in a child’s development, marked by increased expectations in various aspects of life, particularly in academic and social settings.

While a child ADHD assessment typically occurs after the age of 5, challenges associated with ADHD often become more apparent as children navigate the demands of school and increased social interactions around the age of 7.

Before the age of 5, children are still in the early stages of cognitive and emotional development, making it difficult to conclusively diagnose ADHD. However, as they progress through primary school, the expectations for sustained attention, impulse control, and organisational skills may become more pronounced.

According to the NHS, many children are diagnosed with ADHD by the age of 12, but the signs may become noticeable around 7 years old or even earlier.

The Signs of ADHD in 7 Year Olds

Recognising the signs of ADHD in 7 year olds involves paying attention to various aspects of their behaviour, both at home and in school.

It’s essential to remember that these signs can vary from child to child, and occasional instances of these behaviours may not necessarily indicate ADHD.

  • Inattention: Children with ADHD may struggle to focus on tasks, frequently becoming easily distracted and having difficulty sustaining attention, especially in school settings.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behaviours, such as acting without thinking, interrupting others, or having trouble waiting for a turn, are common signs of ADHD. These behaviours may be more noticeable in social or classroom situations.
  • Hyperactivity: While hyperactivity may be less prominent in some children with ADHD, others may display restless and fidgety behaviours, such as squirming, tapping, or difficulty sitting still for extended periods.
  • Difficulty Organising Tasks: Challenges in organising tasks and activities may become evident, affecting a child’s ability to complete assignments or follow through with chores, potentially leading to anxiety.
  • Forgetfulness: Forgetfulness, particularly related to daily activities or routines, may be observed. This could include forgetting to bring homework home, misplacing belongings, or being easily sidetracked.
  • Difficulty Following Instructions: Children with ADHD may struggle with following instructions, leading to incomplete tasks or assignments. This may be perceived as a lack of effort or defiance.
  • Social Challenges: ADHD can impact a child’s social interactions. They may find it challenging to play cooperatively with peers, share, or take turns. Social cues may be misinterpreted
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The Different Types of ADHD, and How They Affect Children

ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all condition, and understanding the three different types can provide insights into a child’s specific challenges.

Type of ADHD

How It Affects Children

Inattentive Type

Children with inattentive-type ADHD often struggle to maintain focus, becoming easily distracted and forgetful. They may have difficulty following instructions and organising tasks.

Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

Hyperactive-impulsive-type ADHD is characterised by excessive energy levels and impulsive behaviours. Children with this type may fidget, have difficulty sitting still, and act without thinking. Impulsivity can affect social interactions and decision-making.

Combined Type

As the name suggests, combined-type ADHD involves a combination of symptoms from both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types. This is the most common presentation of ADHD.
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What Causes ADHD?

The exact causes of ADHD are not fully understood, and it’s likely that a combination of factors contributes to the development of the condition. Some key factors associated with ADHD include:

  1. Genetic Factors: Research indicates a strong genetic component in ADHD. Children with a family history of ADHD are more likely to develop the condition. Specific genes related to neurotransmitter regulation and brain development are believed to play a role.
  2. Brain Structure and Function: Structural and functional differences in the brain, particularly in regions responsible for attention, impulse control, and executive functions, have been observed in individuals with ADHD. These differences may affect communication between brain cells.
  3. Environmental Factors: Prenatal and early-life exposure to certain environmental factors, such as maternal smoking, alcohol use during pregnancy, premature birth, and low birth weight, have been associated with an increased risk of ADHD.
  4. Neurotransmitter Imbalance: Disruptions in the balance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that facilitate communication between nerve cells in the brain) may contribute to ADHD. Dopamine and norepinephrine, in particular, play crucial roles in attention and impulse control.
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How To Help, At School and At Home

Supporting a child with ADHD involves a collaborative effort between school and home environments. By doing so, you can create a supportive and nurturing environment, promoting both academic success and personal development.

At School:

  • Structured Environment: Establish a structured and organised classroom environment. Clearly define routines, rules, and expectations. Consistency is key.
  • Individualised Learning: Recognize and accommodate different learning styles. Provide opportunities for hands-on activities and interactive learning. Consider offering additional support or modified assignments when needed.
  • Clear Instructions: Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Use clear and concise instructions, and repeat them if necessary. Visual aids can enhance understanding.
  • Regular Feedback: Provide regular feedback on performance. Positive reinforcement for completed tasks or improved behaviour can motivate and build confidence.
  • Regular Breaks: Allow for short breaks during tasks to help manage restlessness. Physical activity or movement breaks can be particularly beneficial.
  • Collaboration with Parents: Share insights into the child’s progress, and collaborate on strategies that work both at school and at home.

At Home:

  • Consistent Routine: Establish a consistent daily routine at home. Consistency helps children with ADHD feel more secure and can reduce anxiety.
  • Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate expectations and rules. Use visual aids or wall charts to reinforce routines and expected behaviours.
  • Organisational Aids: Utilise tools like planners, checklists, and apps to help with homework and daily tasks.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Acknowledge and reward positive behaviour. Celebrate achievements, wherever they occur, to boost self-esteem.
  • Effective Homework Environment: Maintain a quiet and organised space for homework.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Ensure your child gets regular exercise and maintains a balanced diet. A healthy lifestyle can positively impact attention and overall well-being.

When To Seek Professional Support

If you notice persistent signs of ADHD in your 7 year old that significantly impact their daily life and functioning, it may be time to seek specialist support.

Difficulty in academic performance (especially when the challenges are not aligned with the child’s intellectual capabilities), persistent challenges in making and maintaining friendships, frequent emotional outbursts, mood swings, or difficulty regulating emotions can all be signs that it’s time to take action.

Likewise, if teachers express concerns about behaviour, attention, or academic progress, you may wish to schedule a child ADHD assessment.

When considering professional support, consult with your child’s paediatrician or an experienced mental health professional. A comprehensive evaluation, considering medical, behavioural, and environmental factors, will lead to an accurate diagnosis and effective intervention strategies tailored to your child’s needs.

Book your assessment with The ADHD Centre today.

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