ADHD Symptoms in Children

What is ADHD?

A girl is not motivated to finish homework.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects behavior. A recent national study reported by the CDC noted that 11% of school aged children are being diagnosed with ADHD. Three main symptoms define ADHD including inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The symptoms are severe enough to affect the child's behavior in social situations and at school. The criteria for ADHD diagnosis were established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association) in 1994. To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must exhibit the symptoms outlined in this slideshow for at least six months.

What is Inattention?

ADHD Symptoms: Inattention

Inattention refers to the tendency to be easily distracted. It's one of the defining features of ADHD. Read on to learn about symptoms of inattention.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A mom is frustrated with her child's poor schoolwork.

Repeated, careless mistakes are symptoms of inattention. Failure to pay attention to details results in errors at school, work, and in other areas.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A teacher is not happy about her student's inattention.

A child who has inattention associated with ADHD may have trouble paying attention to the task at hand. Whether related to schoolwork or play, a child with inattention may become easily bored and have trouble focusing on an activity.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A boy covers his hears and does not listen to his mother.

A child who has inattention with ADHD may have difficulty listening when being spoken to.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A bored and inattentive boy in school.

Another symptom of ADHD inattention is the inability to complete tasks. Children with ADHD may not complete homework or chores. This "failure to follow through" is not due to another cause such as oppositional behavior or an inability to understand instructions.

In ADHD adults, inability to complete work tasks is another symptom of inattention.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A girl sits in her disorganized and messy bedroom.

Organization is a skill that children with ADHD often struggle with. Disorganization makes it difficult for ADHD kids to complete tasks.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A father tries to help his son who doesn't understand and is giving up on homework.

A child with ADHD may find it difficult or impossible to participate in tasks requiring continuous mental exertion. Schoolwork and homework that require focused effort may be challenging.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A girl who lost something but doesn't seem to care.

ADHD children often lose objects. Schoolwork, books, toys, tools, and pencils belonging to an ADHD child may go missing.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

A boy daydreams in class while other students work.

A child with ADHD may have trouble ignoring outside stimulation including lights, noise, and activity going on around them.

Inattention Symptoms in ADHD

Girl has forgotten how to do an assignment in class.

A child with ADHD may forget things easily.

What is hyperactivity?

ADHD Symptoms: Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is a feature of ADHD that refers to an abundance of physical energy and too much activity. Read on to learn about symptoms of hyperactivity.

Hyperactivity Symptoms in ADHD

A boy fidgets with his hands in his mouth.

ADHD children may squirm in their seat and have trouble sitting still. Fidgeting is another way hyperactivity manifests in ADHD children.

Hyperactivity Symptoms in ADHD

A girl is not happy about having to stay in her seat during class.

Sitting may be intolerable for ADHD children. They may get up out of their seat at school or at other times when there is an expectation to remain seated.

Hyperactivity Symptoms in ADHD

A girl yells while climbing on playground equipment.

ADHD children may run around or climb on objects at inappropriate times.

Hyperactivity Symptoms in ADHD

A boy intentionally ruins a game of chess by knocking pieces over.

Quiet activities such as reading or playing a board game may be difficult for an ADHD child to engage in.

Hyperactivity Symptoms in ADHD

A girl talks excessively to another girl while in class.

ADHD children are often non-stop talkative.

What is impulsivity?

ADHD Symptoms: Impulsivity

Impulsivity is a defining feature of ADHD that refers to acting without regard to consequences. Read on to learn about symptoms of impulsivity.

Impulsivity Symptoms in ADHD

A girl raises her hand and yells out an answer in class.

A child with ADHD may interrupt others to answer a question before it's been asked.

Impulsivity Symptoms in ADHD

A boy is not happy about having to wait his turn.

ADHD children have trouble taking turns. They may find it difficult or unbearable to wait their turn while playing a game or doing other activities.

Impulsivity Symptoms in ADHD

A boy interrupts another boy in a classroom.

An ADHD child may interrupt the conversations and activities of others.

Early recognition is key to treatment of ADHD

A doctor talks to a boy with ADHD.

Early diagnosis and treatment of ADHD increases the possibility of long-term success for children with the condition. It can be difficult to diagnose ADHD because many of the symptoms are considered "normal" in very young, non-ADHD children. Symptoms in these children eventually go away. The symptoms of ADHD also mimic those of other conditions. A thorough evaluation by a skilled health care professional is necessary to diagnose ADHD. A parent or teacher who suspects ADHD in a child should recommend that child for an evaluation right away.

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REFERENCES:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • National Institute of Mental Health: "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)."
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