Other Causes for Behaviors That Look Like ADHD

A child who can’t seem to sit still, who blurts out answers in class without raising his hand, who doesn’t finish his homework, who seems to be daydreaming when the teacher gives instructions — these actions are associated with ADHD behavior, but they can also be a result of other factors, from anxiety to trauma to just being younger than most of the kids in the class, and hence a little less mature.

That’s why it’s important for teachers and parents both to be aware of other things that could be influencing a child’s behavior.

  • Inattention: A child who is inattentive could be distracted by a worrisome or painful situation at home, or because she’s being bullied on the playground, and recess is coming up. If a child with OCD doesn’t know the answer to the question, it looks like he wasn’t paying attention, but it’s really because he was distracted by obsessions. When a child seems to be looking everywhere but at the pages of the book she is supposed to be reading, another possible cause is that she has a learning disorder.
  • Hyperactivity: If a child is fidgeting when she’s supposed to be reading, she could have sensory issues that are making her uncomfortable, or a learning issue that is causing her great frustration. And if she bolts from her chair, it could be because she is ashamed that she doesn’t seem to be able to do what the other kids can do, and intent on covering that fact up.
  • Impulsivity: Anxiety is another condition, often hidden, that can cause kids to be unable to follow rules or wait their turn, or to lash out when they are upset.