Dr. Selznick’s blogs are written to help parents navigate the difficult waters of raising children struggling with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, as well as ADHD and deficits of executive functioning. His overriding mission is to speak to parents in “down-to-earth terms free of jargon.” 


“My Kid Can’t Pay Attention – Must Be ADHD” (Not So Fast)

Every week I hear an array of concerns regarding distractibility and inattentiveness.

Beyond the immediate assumption that the child has ADHD/ADD (in other words a neurological disorder), I do my best to broaden the narrative and review other factors to consider that may contribute to why a child is not consistently paying attention.

There are multiple reasons why a child could be struggling to pay attention, which is not always ADHD.

Some others to consider that are commonly in the “soup pot” include:

  • Perhaps the child is obsessed (addicted?) to playing video games, leaving little in the “mental tank” for sustained mental effort.
  • Perhaps the child is also playing video games far too late in the evening and not getting enough sleep.
  • Perhaps the school work is too hard.
  • Maybe there’s been a lot of tension and fighting in the family that is unsettling to the child, contributing to a sense of distractibility.
  • Perhaps the teacher is not that motivating and the work has become overly boring
  • Perhaps the child is being flooded by too many worksheets (or its on-line equivalent), leaving the child feeling disconnected and unmotivated.
  • Perhaps the child has significant reading problems, making it difficult to pay attention and to comprehend.
  • Perhaps there is a lot of distraction in the environment (whether it be an actual classroom or at home), and the atmosphere does not lend itself to paying attention.
  • .Maybe the child is struggling with anxiety and the excessive worrying looks like inattention.
  • Perhaps the child is feeling like she may have social issues as she goes on TikTok and Instagram and sees her friends and she’s not included.
  • Maybe the child has been made fun of or ridiculed, but no one really knows of it other than the child.

Takeaway Point

There are many more such as these, but these are some of the ones that readily come to mind when considering why a child may not be paying attention.

Sure,  the child may ADHD/ADD, but make sure you go through a checklist to see what else may be contributing to the inattention.

Copyright, 2022
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick email:

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