Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

December 28, 2016

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. Recent surveys published by the Centers for Disease Control  show that approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011. The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that 5% of children have ADHD1. However, studies in the US have estimated higher rates in community samples.

Knowing these statistics, how does a parent, caregiver or teacher identify the signs and symptoms of ADHD? Let’s look at some of the typical symptoms that may raise a red flag and warrant an evaluation by school or doctors.

Trouble Focusing (The attention component of ADHD.)  – It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue and can cause difficulty at school, at home, or with friends. This trouble focusing may take different forms such as:

  • Overlooking or missing details on school work on in other areas
  • Having problems sustaining attention in tasks or play,
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Not following through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork
  • Having problems organizing tasks and activities, such as what to do in sequence
  • Avoiding or disliking tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Losing things necessary for tasks or activities
  • Easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli

Trouble with Hyperactivity –  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel IV defines a child as hyperactive if they have six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity and are present for at least six months. These include: 

  • Often fidgeting with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaving seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • Often running about or climbing in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
  • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
  • Often talking excessively.
  • Often blurting out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

If you suspect that you child has ADHD talk to his/her teachers or pediatrician and arrange for a more formal evaluation.