Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common mental disorder in children, which can affect schooling or interpersonal relationships. Though it's exact cause is not known, it is believed to be associated with low quantities of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The symptoms of ADHD vary from case to case and can be difficult to recognize. There are three types of ADHD: Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and Combined. Inattentive ADHD typically means a person is showing enough symptoms of inattention and is easily distracted, but isn’t necessarily hyperactive or impulsive. In contrast to this is the Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD, which occurs when a person has symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness but not inattention. A person with Combined ADHD shows symptoms of all three. In a toddler, these signs may be difficult to notice, as toddlers have a difficult time paying attention in general.

It is important to note that many of the symptoms of ADHD are within the range of normal experience for children. Almost all children are fidgety at some point, become distracted easily, and have trouble paying attention at times. The difference to note here is that a child with ADHD has these symptoms to such an extent that they can become a distraction at home or in the classroom. In order to be diagnosed, symptoms have to be present for at least six months and must be inappropriate for a child's developmental level. Additionally, with each symptom type, there are a number of criteria that a child's behavior will need to meet in order to be diagnosed. In toddler's this can be even more difficult to diagnose.

The most noticeable symptom type is inattention. A child can be diagnosed as inattentive if they are easily distracted and have trouble focusing on one activity. Inattentive ADHD children may ignore speakers, even when being directly spoken to, and may not follow instructions. They may also seem to have trouble processing information. Talk to your doctor to see if your child's behaviors are more extreme than other kids at their age.

The other symptom types are hyperactivity and impulsivity, which tend to be clumped together. A child may be diagnosed as hyperactive if they appear to always be "on the go". They may squirm in their seats, climb at inappropriate times, tap their hands or feet. They may run from toy to toy to toy, and seem to never stop.

A child may be considered impulsive if they talk excessively, constantly interrupt others, have trouble engaging in quiet time activities, and blurt out answers before the question has been finished. They may have extreme impatience waiting their turn, and may have inappropriate emotional outbursts.

Other signs and symptoms in children ages 3-4 have been noted by the Kennedy Krieger Institute. These include injuring themselves from running too fast without regard to obstacles in their path, or not following instructions. Other symptoms of childhood ADHD may be fearlessness that leads to endangerment, being overly bold with strangers, and being overly aggresive during play time. A child with the inability to hop on one foot by the age of four may also be showing a symptom of ADHD.

Again, It is important to note that many of the symptoms of ADHD are within the range of normal experience for children. Often times parents or teachers misdiagnose children as ADHD. A child who is constantly roughhousing or hyperactive may just have disciplinary problems or be seeking attention. In contrast, a child who sits quietly and seems to be obeying all the class rules may not be paying attention at all, and may be showing symptoms of ADHD that go unnoticed due to their introverted behaviors. If you are uncertain if your child has ADHD, don't make a guessing game of it. See your doctor or pediatrician. While there is no cure for ADHD in toddlers, You may be able to alleviate some of your child's symptoms through medication and lifestyle changes.

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Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.