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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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1.11 Developmental Course of ADHD across the Life Span

It is now known that ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. In approximately 80 percent of cases, a child with ADHD will continue to have the disorder as a teenager, and the majority of children with ADHD will have it into adulthood (Lists 1.4, 1.6).

Infancy and Toddler Stages

ADHD is typically diagnosed in school-age children. However, there is evidence that even in infancy, toddler, and early childhood years there are indicators that a child may be at risk for eventually being diagnosed with ADHD (or another developmental disorder). “Difficult temperaments” characterize many infants and toddlers who may later experience childhood problems and be diagnosed with ADHD or some other disorder.

The following are signs to watch for in infancy that may be symptomatic of possible future difficulties:

  • Irritability
  • Shrill, frequent crying
  • Overactive and restless
  • Sleep problems
  • Fussy eater
  • Difficulty adapting well to changes in the environment
  • Difficulty nursing and feeding
  • Colicky
  • Hard to please
  • Hard to establish and maintain on a schedule

In the toddler years, early indicators may include the following:

  • Excessively active
  • Picky eater
  • Sleep problems
  • Fussiness and irritability
  • Higher degree of crying, temper tantrums, and noncompliant behavior than is typical for children that age
  • Poorly adapting to changes
  • Clumsiness and being accident prone
  • Speech and language problems

What to Do?

It is recommended that when children in these very ...

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