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Is there ADHD in infants?

Is there ADHD in infants?

Can behavioral problems like ADHD be recognized in infancy? What signs do they have and how can parents react?

Sophia [1] came to the world too early and suffered an oxygen deficiency at birth. She initially had drinking difficulties and painful colic. She slept a little, cried a lot, and could hardly be comforted. Much earlier than her peers, she began to crawl and speak.

At nursery school, Sophia noticed that she could barely sit still, just stayed for a little while, and seldom kept to rules. Sophia was 6 years old when she was diagnosed with ADHD (an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Could not this syndrome have been detected much earlier due to their behavioral problems in infancy?

No reliable diagnosis of ADHD in infants ?

The answer is no! According to experts, a reliable diagnosis can only be made from the age of 6 at the earliest.

Not every whining, hard-to-calm baby has ADHD, and not every ADHD child has any behavioral problems as a baby!

But in about 30% of the "writing babies" [2] is actually diagnosed at school age or in the further course of life ADHD.

Possible signs [3] of ADHD in infancy are:

  • The child seems to have inexhaustible energy
  • It calms down awake
  • It suffers from colic and / or is a "writing baby"
  • It shows hypersensitivity to touch, smell, noise, clothes
  • It is a "tricky" eater
  • It often sleeps short and restless
  • It starts to crawl early
  • It can sometimes be difficult to hold and caress

How is ADHD?

An oxygen deficiency, as with Sophia's birth, increases the risk of later onset of ADHD.

ADHD is inherited, similar behavioral characteristics are usually found in other family members: Sophia's father was a very restless infant and a disconcerted, undisciplined student. Genetically related to ADHD are peculiarities in brain anatomy and brain metabolism. These affect u.a. the frontal brain, which controls attention and impulses; and the neurotransmitter system, which plays an essential role in learning processes.

It is not only the genetic systems with which a human being is born, but also the environment in which he grows that determine his development. Experiences and learning change the brain. Attention as well as dealing with exuberant feelings and impulses can be trained to some extent.

Infant research assumes that babies with the symptoms described above have maturation delays and adjustment disorders. These children need very sensitive care. They depend on their caregivers to interpret their signals correctly and respond to them. When they experience that they are understood to be lovingly and reliably fulfilled, they gradually learn to self-regulate. In this way maturation processes are made up. Anyone who reacts to early warning signs in infancy can prevent undesirable developments!

Challenge for parents

Not an easy task for parents! Caring for the infant can be a psychological test if it cannot be comforted when sleepless nights, restless days lead to physical and mental exhaustion. Often self-doubt and feelings of guilt appear, it comes to a vicious cycle: The infant feels the increasing uncertainty and irritability of the mother and father and reacts with increased unrest.

That parents reach their limits is not a fault on their part, but the result of extremely stressful circumstances. Experts recommend that you seek professional help in the near future, be it in a screaming clinic, an early intervention center, an educational counseling center or a social pediatric center. It helps to clarify what the baby is missing and helps parents build a secure, sustainable relationship with their child that will allow them to catch up on their maturity. Thus, the development of pronounced ADHD symptoms is counteracted in later years.

Signs of ADHD: What parents need to look out for?

ADHD is difficult to diagnose. However, there are several signs that indicate this. Which indicates the disease in infants, toddlers and older children.

That children want to move, is quite normal: run, jump, and jump with a never-ending endurance. This is sometimes too much for us adults. So much activity and volume we are not used to from our everyday work. Is this normal for children or not? That's hard for a layman to decide.

If the tendency to fidget over normal levels and children behave uncontrollably impulsive, unfocused and chaotic or just very dreamy, they may have an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are signs and signals how to detect this complex disorder.

ADHD: Excessive urge to move and excessive reverie

If children are lively or often lost in thought, it does not have to be about the congenital disorder ADHD. Here, specialists are in demand for reliable diagnosis: on the one hand, the age of the child plays a role, on the other hand, ADHD can occur in different variants. Basically, it is a protracted illness, the consequences of which can be positively influenced by targeted treatment. First, however, it is important to clarify the disorder accurately. The main symptoms, which by no means all have to occur simultaneously, are;

  • an attention deficit
  • impulsive action
  • as well as a pronounced restlessness.

The disorder is complex and can be very different. For delimitation three subgroups are distinguished:

  • predominantly hyperactive and impulsive
  • attention deficit (ADS)
  • a mixture of both - hyperactive and attention-grabbing

Since ADHD is innate, the first signs can be felt before the age of six, but in many different forms.

The most important age-related signs of ADHD

ADHD in infancy

To say it firstly: ADHD cannot be safely diagnosed in a baby. However, associations with regulatory disorders have been identified that are particularly noticeable in frequent, prolonged screaming, poor sleep and possibly feeding problems. Sick babies are in a bad mood on a regular basis and are overly restless. The refusal of body contact can be an indication - but does not have to. As a rule, only about one-third of infants who exhibit these symptoms confirm the ADHD presumption. All these signals can also indicate something else:

ADHD in infants

Even with small children a clear diagnosis is still difficult. As a rule, the affected children scream a lot, the ability to pay attention is as low as the desire to play. The main symptoms of ADHD are marked restlessness and motor restlessness. It can be seen that the disorder burdened both the parents and the child itself. The affected children find it difficult to make friends with their peers and can hardly spend a long time quietly or alone or concentrate on an activity.

Because of this, they quickly switch from one activity to another, but they can also cause accidents more frequently because of their unpredictability. Even dealing with the usual tools for crafting is often an obstacle, since the fine and coarse motor coordination is only slightly pronounced. In terms of language acquisition ADHD children also deviate from a usual child development. Either they can speak very early or are remarkably late. Last but not least, the defiance phase, which is much more severe in ADHD children than normal, poses a real challenge to all involved.

ADHD at primary school age

The frustration tolerance of the affected children is low, which manifests itself in violent rage, should something not work as planned. But that alone is not a sure sign of ADHD. ADHD children like to talk and do a lot, but most of all they stand out with a little matching facial expressions and gestures. Other symptoms can be above average number of accidents at play or a general awkwardness. The affected children suffer from the perceived deficits - and this is often reflected in their self-confidence. Since they are struggling with rules anyway, they quickly become an outsider or a nuisance, who talks a lot, but can solve tasks only slowly. Because they can only cope and process the resulting frustration badly, this can turn into a fatal cycle.

Teachers recognize ADHD in particular by the fact that children are increasingly disturbed by lessons and can be distracted quickly. Even if the affected children do not always have to fidget - they are noticeable. Of course, ADHD children are worse off at school, often illegible, and tend to be chaotic in terms of organization. Not infrequently, in addition to ADHD, a reading-spelling or even weak calculation is diagnosed. ADHD is a congenital disorder that can also be associated with extraordinary abilities. Specialists are required here to diagnose ADHD and then counteract the impending impairment of performance and reduction of social competences with the appropriate therapies.

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