ADHD

ADHD Overview

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition with symptoms such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The symptoms differ from person to person. ADHD was formerly called ADD, or attention deficit disorder. Both children and adults can have ADHD, but the symptoms always begin in childhood. Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals, and holding down a job.

Could someone you know have ADHD? Maybe they're inattentive. Or they might be hyperactive and impulsive. They might have all those traits.

Symptoms of ADHD

There are three groups of symptoms:

  1. Inattention
  2. Hyperactivity
  3. Impulsivity

Get the facts on all of them, and learn examples of behaviors that can come with each.

Inattention

You might not notice it until a child goes to school. In adults, it may be easier to notice at work or in social situations.

The person might procrastinate, not complete tasks like homework or chores, or frequently move from one uncompleted activity to another.

They might also:

  • Be disorganized
  • Lack focus
  • Have a hard time paying attention to details and a tendency to make careless mistakes. Their work might be messy and seem careless.
  • Have trouble staying on topic while talking, not listening to others, and not following social rules
  • Be forgetful about daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
  • Be easily distracted by things like trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others.

Hyperactivity

It may vary with age. You might be able to notice it in preschoolers. ADHD symptoms nearly always show up before middle school.

Kids with hyperactivity may:

  • Fidget and squirm when seated.
  • Get up frequently to walk or run around.
  • Run or climb a lot when it's not appropriate. (In teens this may seem like restlessness.)
  • Have trouble playing quietly or doing quiet hobbies
  • Always be "on the go"
  • Talk excessively

Toddlers and preschoolers with ADHD tend to be constantly in motion, jumping on furniture and having trouble participating in group activities that call for them to sit still. For instance, they may have a hard time listening to a story.

School-age children have similar habits, but you may notice those less often. They are unable to stay seated, squirm a lot, fidget, or talk a lot.

Hyperactivity can show up as feelings of restlessness in teens and adults. They may also have a hard time doing quiet activities where you sit still.

Impulsivity

Symptoms of this include:

  • Impatience
  • Having a hard time waiting to talk or react

The person might:

  • Have a hard time waiting for their turn.
  • Blurt out answers before someone finishes asking them a question.
  • Frequently interrupt or intrude on others. This often happens so much that it causes problems in social or work settings.
  • Start conversations at inappropriate times.

Impulsivity can lead to accidents, like knocking over objects or banging into people. Children with ADHD may also do risky things without stopping to think about the consequences. For instance, they may climb and put themselves in danger.

Many of these symptoms happen from time to time in all youngsters. But in children with the disorder they happen a lot -- at home and school, or when visiting with friends. They also mess with the child's ability to function like other children who are the same age or developmental level.

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