There are three different types of ADHD, including:
- combined ADHD (the most common type), which involves all of the symptoms
- inattentive ADHD (previously known as ADD), which is marked by impaired attention and concentration
- hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, which is marked by hyperactivity without inattentiveness
Some impairment from the symptoms must be present in more than one setting. For instance, the person may be impaired at home and school or home and work. Also, there must be clear evidence the symptoms interfere with the person’s ability to function at home, in social environments, or in work environments.
Symptoms of ADHD
There are three different categories of ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity.
Inattention may not become apparent until a child enters the challenging environment of school. In adults, symptoms of inattention may manifest in work or in social situations.
A person with ADHD may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and careless
- easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others
- inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
- difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
- frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
- disorganized work habits
- forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
- failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores
- frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one’s mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations
Hyperactivity symptoms may be apparent in very young preschoolers and are nearly always present before the age of seven. Symptoms include:
- fidgeting, squirming when seated
- getting up frequently to walk or run around
- running or climbing excessively when it’s inappropriate (in teens this may appear as restlessness)
- having difficulty playing quietly or engaging in quiet leisure activities
- being always on the go
- often talking excessively
Impulsivity symptoms include:
- difficulty delaying responses
- blurting out answers before questions have been completed
- difficulty awaiting one’s turn
- frequently interrupting or intruding on others to the point of causing problems in social or work settings
- initiating conversations at inappropriate times
Impulsivity may lead to accidents such as knocking over objects or banging into people. Children with ADHD may also engage in potentially dangerous activities without considering the consequences.
Many of these symptoms occur from time to time in normal youngsters. However, in children with ADHD they occur frequently — at home and at school or when visiting with friends. They also interfere with the child’s ability to function normally.
ADHD is diagnosed after children consistently display some or all of the above behaviors in at least two settings, such as at home and in school, for at least six months.