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Maybe It’s Not ADHD


Do you have a kid that seems to bounce off the walls, is easily distracted, and seems to forget anything and everything? You might immediately think of ADHD when you hear this description. The term is tossed around quite casually these days and it’s been used to explain behavior problems for years now.

However, things are not always as they seem. It’s easy to make a quick conclusion without looking any deeper. Even if you treat the symptoms, you may not be addressing the correct problem. Before you see a doctor or counselor about a diagnosis as specific as ADHD, consider the following possibilities.

Your Child Is Gifted

Many gifted children could at least casually get an ADHD diagnosis. They are often easily bored and crave stimulation to feel satisfied. Expectations to sit still in one place may be difficult for a child who wants to explore everything. In some schools, kids with high abilities aren’t given the same kind of attention that children with higher needs.

Also, remember that some of the problems associated with lack of focus or attention can actually result in a high level of creativity, discovery and energy. It’s not all negative! While it’s certainly possible for a child to be both gifted and have a clearly separate ADHD diagnosis, the symptoms of inattention and focus may decrease with better focus on their needs as a gifted creative child.

Your Family Has Had Difficulties

I’ve seen many kids during my counseling career with a diagnosis of ADHD. While this wasn’t usually our main therapeutic focus, I noticed that many of the ADHD behaviors seemed to begin around the time of the family crisis or disruption. Kids became easily distracted, hyper, forgetful, wouldn’t follow directions and couldn’t finish anything.

While these symptoms would occasionally get better with medication, I often wondered if these kids would have ever been diagnosed if their home life felt more secure or stable to them.

If this seems to be your situation, try looking at your child’s symptoms and behaviors through this lens. You might find that reducing chaos, being honest with feelings, helping your child feel more grounded, and getting support for your whole family may help symptoms improve (with or without medication).

Check back in a few days for more about conditions that could be mistaken for ADHD. Look for Maybe It’s Not ADHD Part 2.

Readers, what do you think so far? Do you have experience coping with or trying to manage a situation that mimicked ADHD?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Curtis Gregory Perry

Maybe It’s Not ADHD

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2012). Maybe It’s Not ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 May 2012
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