Symptoms of ADHD

Given the fuzzy character of the disorder, the symptoms of ADHD are not clear-cut. There are many possible symptoms and whichever ones occur must be persistent to be considered diagnostically relevant. They must also be unusual given a child's developmental stage, since a child might display some symptoms simply because they are typical for his or her age group.

To qualify as symptoms of ADHD, they must also create significant impairment of functioning in school or home.

For an adult to be diagnosed with ADHD, he or she must have had some of these symptoms during childhood. 

The symptoms of ADHD fall into two distinct categories: inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Those whose symptoms are restricted to inattention aren't usually as disruptive and therefore often go undiagnosed.

Symptoms of Inattention:

  • difficulty sustaining attention, organizing tasks, or setting up tools needed for a task
  • easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
  • does not pay attention to detail or follow instructions carefully
  • makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
  • fails to finish schoolwork or other chores
  • loses things and is forgetful
  • does not seem to listen when spoken to directly; lethargic, appears to be daydreaming

Symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity:

  • restless, fidgeting with hand or feet or squirming while seated
  • unable to stay seated or play quietly
  • as small child, may run, jump, or climb about constantly
  • talks excessively at inappropriate times
  • blurts out answers before questions are completed
  • has trouble taking turns or waiting on line
  • interrupts or intrudes on others; grabs things from people


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