If your child has trouble paying attention or controlling impulsive behaviors, you might be wondering if a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is appropriate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.5 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. With more information about the disorder available, parents are more aware of what the possible symptoms look like, but diagnosing ADHD is no simple task. A misbehaving or energetic child may be mistaken for having the disorder, while others that do suffer are never diagnosed. Here are some warning signs to look for before taking your child to a doctor to get tested for ADHD.

Lack of attention
A child who has ADHD will exhibit signs of inattention at home and school. According to the CDC, six or more of the following symptoms should be present over a period of six months to warrant concern. An inattentive child will make careless mistakes and have trouble keeping his or her attention on activities and tasks. The child will not seem to understand when someone is speaking directly to him or her. Other symptoms include not following through on instructions and failing to complete tasks such as homework and chores. Losing objects that are needed such as school assignments, clothes and pencils are also signs of inattention. Other signs include distraction and forgetfulness during daily activities.

Though many children can seem hyper at times, symptoms of ADHD should be present over a period of six months or more. Signs include fidgeting with hands or feet and squirming when told to sit still. Hyperactive children get up off their seats without  permission and run around the room when not appropriate. Playing or working on activities quietly is difficult for children with ADHD, and excessive movement and talking makes it seem as though they always have energy.

These symptoms include blurting out answers before the questions have been finished. A child might also have trouble waiting his or her turn, often interrupting others. This might include intruding into conversations or taking over games.

Diagnosis can be tricky in this case. Parents and teachers should never assume that a difficult child has ADHD. Most children can act out of control and become hyper at times. But if this kind of behavior is more frequent in a specific child, parents may have a reason to suspect the disorder. Children with ADHD have behavioral problems so severe that they are unable to continue in normal life. That is one reason why teachers are usually the first to notice a potential problem with a child. If you feel that your child is exhibiting these symptoms regularly and in various settings, do not assume ADHD without consulting a doctor.