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The symptoms of ADHD

ADHD is a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a child's age and development.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. It affects about 3 - 5% of school aged children. ADHD is diagnosed much more often in boys than in girls.
ADHD may run in families, but it is not clear exactly what causes it. Whatever the cause may be, it seems to be set in motion early in life as the brain is developing. Imaging studies suggest that the brains of children with ADHD are different from those of other children.
Depression, lack of sleep, learning disabilities, tic disorders, and behavior problems may be confused with, or appear with, ADHD. Every child suspected of having ADHD should be carefully examined by a doctor to rule out possible other conditions or reasons for the behavior.
Most children with ADHD also have at least one other developmental or behavioral problem. They may also have a psychiatric problem, such as depression or bipolar disorder.


The symptoms of ADHD fall into three groups:
  • Lack of attention (inattentiveness)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsive behavior (impulsivity)
Some children with ADHD primarily have the inattentive type. Others may have a combination of types. Those with the inattentive type are less disruptive and are more likely to not be diagnosed with ADHD.
Inattentive symptoms
  1. Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork
  2. Has difficulty keeping attention during tasks or play
  3. Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  4. Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  5. Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  6. Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork)
  7. Often loses toys, assignments, pencils, books, or tools needed for tasks or activities
  8. Is easily distracted
  9. Is often forgetful in daily activities
Hyperactivity symptoms:
  1. Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
  2. Leaves seat when remaining seated is expected
  3. Runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations
  4. Has difficulty playing quietly
  5. Is often "on the go," acts as if "driven by a motor," talks excessively
Impulsivity symptoms:
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