ADHD, Shyness, and Getting Your Child Help

We’ve come a long way with treatment and support for ADHD. While there is still a long way to go, we know more now and have more support options available for situations where someone is struggling with ADHD and in need of help.

But first, you or your child has to get help.

This is where we are still a long way from both diagnosing and addressing ADHD. While we know more about it and have more treatments available, many people – especially children and teens – are having their ADHD ignored, because it doesn’t present the way that we expect ADHD to present.

The “H” in ADHD

The H in “ADHD” stands for “Hyperactivity,” and that is frequently what we find that people expect to see when they are looking for signs of ADHD in their child. Many people have this vision of a child that is overactive, cannot seem to sit still, and noticeably and visibly struggles with staying in one spot.

Many people even expect this with those that have more of an inattentive type of ADHD. They may not expect the child to be jumping up and down, but they do expect to be able to see the child’s thoughts wander or watch them struggle to pay attention (for example, looking at classmates instead of at the teacher).

But we know that ADHD doesn’t manifest in any one way. One thing we often see is that many children with ADHD are just as shy as other children, so much so that they may generally sit still and appear to be following most conversations in a way that does not appear at first glance to look like ADHD.

Shyness and ADHD

It’s important for parents to recognize that their child may have ADHD, even if they’re shy and otherwise keep to themselves. Symptoms of ADHD, like inattention and trouble staying on topic, can take place in a person’s mind, not always something that you can view visually. A child whose mind wanders and who struggles to keep their thoughts focused on the task at hand still has symptoms of ADHD, but without the presentation that we often look for.

Shy children may be especially prone to unintentionally hiding their ADHD symptoms. It can be especially hard to miss since some of the symptoms of ADHD (struggling to focus, for example) can occasionally be blamed on their shyness or social anxiety, and not the actual root cause.

Evaluating a child for ADHD and executive function disorder is an important step towards making sure that your child is getting the help and support they need. Earlier intervention is one of the best ways to ensure they grow up with the skills that will help them thrive. But part of identifying that ADHD is going to come from remembering that ADHD presents itself in many different ways, and that you can’t just look at the behaviors you associate with ADHD.

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