Sometimes,a child may not have good attention, a feature that becomes significant around the age of 5 years. Prior to 5 years of age, a child is allowed to have some degree of hyperactivity.
Is poor attention a cause or a result of poor understanding, often related to poor speech and language skills – the chicken and egg question?
Attention can also appear poor in the presence of hearing impairment or poor auditory processing skills. These need to be excluded in the assessment of a child who frequently does not appear to be focused.
With the presence of poor attention, hyperactivity and/or impassivity, occurring across different environments, consider Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (See Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder under Common Developmental Disorder), for which the cornerstone of treatment is medication, a fact that needs to be emphasized despite local hang-ups.
Literature clearly documents best outcome in medicated children, with reduction in risks towards co-morbid disorders such as Opposition Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder and other psychiatric disorders, as well as social ills such as substance abuse, school dropouts and traffic offenders.