Does our son have ADHD?

Q: Our 5-year-old son’s teacher is hinting that he has ADHD because he can’t sit still in class. And yet, his grades are nearly perfect. We think he’s just being a normal kindergartener. How should we proceed?

A: There’s a wide range of activity and attention levels in 5-year-old children. If your son is doing well academically, then it may be a matter of figuring out if there’s a way to address the activity level. 

Work with the teacher to see if there are any “triggers” in the classroom that are reinforcing his behavior: Attention from classmates can be one of those. 

If it’s right before lunch or mid-afternoon, hunger may be adding to the activity issues. If he’s on any medications — including asthma or allergy medications — those could influence his activity level. 

Make sure he’s getting enough sleep. Being tired can actually cause difficulty in sitting still in the classroom. Practicing sitting still at home may be another helpful option to improve his classroom experience.

If there are still concerns that his activity level is way above average for his age, then definitely consult your child’s clinician. 

If your son has underlying medical risk factors (including being born prematurely) or a family history of attention-deficit issues (even in adulthood), your doctor can utilize that information in an evaluation. It’s possible your son may have inherited some behavior traits. 

In all cases, consult your son’s clinician to help understand his individual situation. You can also check out the online assessment tool at WebMD.