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Medical problems can look like ADHD.

Visual and hearing problems

  • Moderate hearing loss
  • Near and far sightedness
  • Cataracts

Gastrointestinal problems

  • Typical symptoms of celiac disease include loose stools, diarrhea, and poor weight gain, however, the condition can presents with subtle effects on energy and behavior.
  • People with Down syndrome are also more likely to have constipation, which when severe can cause abdominal pain, lack of appetite, and restlessness.

Thyroid Problems

  • An underactive thyroid gland can, among other things, make a child very tired and lethargic.
  • Too much thyroid activity can cause agitation and restlessness.
  • Therefore, both conditions can look like poor attention and behavior.

Sleep problems

  • Sleep disorders are extremely common in Down syndrome.
  • When tired children can be restless, whiny, and difficult to calm.
  • When tired a child may have difficulty focusing and learning new information.
Communication problems can mimic ADHD.
  • The receptive language skills of children with Down syndrome are often much stronger than their expressive language skills.
  • This can make classroom participation more difficult.
  • The child may express his frustration by acting out or by inattention.
Educational problems may resemble ADHD.
  • If a child’s learning style is not compatible with the teacher’s educational method they may appear bored, fidgety, and hyperactive.
  • If the material too difficult a child may 'tune out' and appear inattentive.
  • A child who is bored with overly easy material also may attend poorly and act out.
Emotional problems may resemble ADHD.
  • If a child with Down syndrome has communication problems they may have difficulty talking about things that make them sad or angry.