Parents - ADHD signs and symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

ADHD is associated with abnormal, persistent symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsiveness that cause educational, social and emotional problems.

Difficulties may cause problems at school

Children with ADHD have difficulty learning, communicating and interacting. Because of this, they may have problems at school, may find it difficult to make and keep friends, and can be unpopular with their peers and teachers because of their challenging behaviour.

Children with ADHD may show mainly symptoms of inattention, or of hyperactivity and impulsiveness or, more commonly, both.

Typical symptoms of inattention include:
  • Short attention span
  • Easily distracted
  • Disorganisation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Failure to complete actions
Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness include:
  • Fidgeting
  • Inability to sit still
  • Often "on the go"
  • Excessive talking
  • Interrupting other people
  • Inability to wait their turn

To qualify as ADHD, these problems:

  • Must be long-term - present for at least 6 months
  • Must be abnormal for the age and stage of development of the child - (what's normal in a 2-year old is not normal in a 10-year old)
  • Must have been present before the age of 12 - ADHD is part of the child's make-up and doesn't suddenly appear out of the blue
  • Must be genuinely disruptive to the child's everyday performance and wellbeing - mere naughtiness at home or not doing well at school is not enough
  • Must occur in more than one place - for example, both at home and at school. Problems which are present just at home or just at school are likely to have other causes
Many children have both inattention AND hyperactivity/impulsiveness problems

Some children only have problems with inattention and some (actually very few) only have problems with hyperactivity and impulsiveness, but many have a combination of both types.

Hyperkinetic disorder

The term "hyperkinetic disorder" is also sometimes used to describe those children with severe ADHD associated with significant hyperactivity.

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