Are there different types of adhd

3 Types of ADHD: Hyperactive, Inattentive, and Combined

What Are the 3 Types of ADHD?

  • Primarily Hyperactive and Impulsive ADHD
  • Primarily Inattentive ADHD (formerly called ADD)
  • Combined Type ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was once diagnosed as ADD or ADHD. Previously, hyperactive and impulsive symptoms were associated with the term “ADHD,” while inattentive symptoms like trouble listening or managing time were diagnosed as “ADD.” Today, the condition is simply called ADHD — according to changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V)1 — and patients are diagnosed with one of three presentations.

What Do the 3 Types of ADHD Mean?

Hyperactive and Impulsive Type ADHD

People with hyperactive ADHD feel the need for constant movement. They often fidget, squirm, and struggle to stay seated. Children often appear to act as if “driven by a motor” and run around excessively. People of all ages may talk non-stop, interrupt others, blurt out answers, and struggle with self-control. This type of ADHD is more recognizable and more often diagnosed in children and men.

Inattentive Type ADHD

People with inattentive ADHD make careless mistakes because they have difficulty sustaining attention, following detailed instructions, and organizing tasks and activities. They have weak working memory, are easily distracted by external stimuli, and often lose things. This type of ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in adults and girls, and was formerly known as ADD.

Combined Type ADHD

People with combined-type ADHD demonstrate six or more symptoms of inattention, and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.

ADHD, Primarily Inattentive ADHD, Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD, Combined Type
Inattentive/ Poor Attention Span X X
Impulsive and/or Hyperactive X X

Medical professionals today test for the ADHD symptoms explained below, and further define ADHD diagnoses by quantifying the severity as mild, moderate, or severe.

How Are the 3 Types of ADHD Diagnosed?

Physicians use the symptoms described in the DSM-V to identify ADHD. The DSM-V lists nine symptoms that suggest ADHD Primarily Hyperactive and Impulsive, and nine that suggest ADHD Primarily Inattentive.2

A clinician may diagnose a child with ADHD only if they exhibit at least six of nine symptoms from one of the lists below, and if the symptoms have been noticeable for at least six months in two or more settings — for example, at home and at school.

What’s more, the symptoms must interfere with the child’s functioning or development, and at least some of the symptoms must have been apparent before age 12. Older teens and adults may need to demonstrate just five of these symptoms in multiple settings.

Hyperactive and Impulsive Type ADHD: Symptoms

A physician will diagnose patients with hyperactive and impulsive type ADHD if they fit 6 of the 9 descriptions below:

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (e.g., leaves his or her place in the classroom, in the workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place).
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate. (Note: In adolescents or adults, this may manifest as feeling restless.)
  • Often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor” (e.g., is unable to remain still — in restaurants or meetings, for example — for any extended time without significant discomfort; others may say the patient is restless, fidgety, or difficult to keep up with).
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed (e.g., completes people’s sentences).
  • Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn (e.g., while waiting in line, while speaking in conversations).
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e. g., butts into conversations, games, or activities; may start using other people’s things without asking or receiving permission; for adolescents and adults, may intrude into or take over what others are doing).

[Self-Test: Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD Symptoms in Adults]
[Self-Test: Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD Symptoms in Children]

Inattentive Type ADHD: Symptoms

A physician will diagnose patients with inattentive type ADHD if they fit 6 of the 9 descriptions below:

  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, turns in inaccurate work).
  • Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked).
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities (e.g., struggle to manage sequential tasks, keep materials and belongings in order, organize work, manage time, and meet deadlines).
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework; for older adolescents and adults, this may include preparing reports, completing forms, reviewing lengthy papers).
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
  • Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, this may include unrelated thoughts).
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., doing chores, running errands; for older adolescents and adults, this may include returning calls, paying bills, keeping appointments).

[Self-Test: Inattentive ADHD Symptoms in Adults]
[Self-Test: Inattentive ADHD Symptoms in Children]

Combined Type ADHD: Symptoms

A physician will diagnose patients with this Combined Type ADHD, of they meet the guidelines for Primarily Inattentive ADHD and Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD. That is, they must exhibit 6 of the 9 symptoms listed for each sub-type.

[Free Download: Inattentive ADHD Explained]

What Do the 3 Types of ADHD Look Like in Daily Life?

The criteria in the DSM-V help physicians evaluate which patients have ADHD, but they sometimes fail to capture all the ways that symptoms manifest in daily life. Use these descriptions to understand what each type of ADHD looks like in children and adults with the condition.

Hyperactive and Impulsive Type ADHD: Daily Symptoms

Hyperactive type ADHD is the stereotype most people imagine when they think of ADHD: a young boy, bouncing off the walls, and interrupting the teacher mid-sentence. This type of ADHD is pretty easy to spot.

Hyperactive ADHD Symptom: Fidgety

A child with hyperactive ADHD often fidgets with or taps hands and feet, or squirms in their seat. This child may fall out of their chair more often than peers. They often feel the need to pick up everything and play with it. An adult may be shifting in their chair or fidgeting with papers during work meetings. If you tell them to ‘sit still,’ they may find it mentally painful and physically uncomfortable to do so — their hyperactive brain is ready to jump to the next thing.

Hyperactive ADHD Symptom: Restlessness

Even when expected to remain seated, children and adults with hyperactive ADHD often get up and move around. A child might walk away from the classroom desk in the middle of a lesson or when seated at a restaurant, or an adult might leave their office, a meeting, or an assigned post at work before they are supposed to.

A young child with hyperactive ADHD is also often running around, crashing into walls and furniture, or climbing on things. They are often described as ‘jumpers’ or as acting like the well-known Winnie-the-Pooh series character, Tigger. In teens and adults, this restlessness is more likely an internal feeling than an outward, physical ADHD hyperactivity.

Hyperactive ADHD Symptom: Noisy

Children and adults with hyperactive ADHD are often singing or humming, or even talking to themselves. They may be loud talkers and often can’t be active quietly.

Hyperactive ADHD Symptom: Talkative

“He never stops talking!” An individual with hyperactive ADHD might talk almost constantly and be known as a “motor mouth.”

Hyperactive ADHD Symptom: Impulsive Reactions

Hyperactive children could be the ones blurting out answers in the classroom before being called on, retaliating immediately against a playground slight, or finishing other people’s sentences.

Hyperactive ADHD Symptom: Struggles to Wait Their Turn

Individuals with hyperactive ADHD may have trouble waiting their turn in a variety of situations — conversation, playing games, answering a question in class, and beyond.

Hyperactive ADHD Symptom: Disruptive

Hyperactive children and adults alike interrupt or intrude on others. They seem to talk over others and insert themselves in conversations or activities to which they didn’t belong. A child might start playing with someone else’s toy without seeking permission first, for example.

Inattentive Type ADHD: Daily Symptoms

The stereotypical ADHD patient is a 9-year-old boy who loves to jump off dangerously high things and never remembers to raise his hand in class. In reality, only a fraction of people with ADHD fits this description. Children with hyperactive ADHD symptoms are difficult to ignore. The ones bouncing out of their chairs or clowning around behind the teacher’s back are the first to be evaluated for and diagnosed with ADHD.

Meanwhile, the students with inattentive ADHD (predominantly girls) are quietly staring out the window at a bird while their work lays unfinished. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, inattentive symptoms are far less likely to be recognized by parents, teachers, and medical professionals, and individuals with inattentive type ADHD rarely get the treatment they need. 3 This leads to academic frustration, apathy, and undue shame that can last a lifetime. This is a big problem.

Inattentive ADHD is often written off as spacey, apathetic behavior in children, or mood disorders/anxiety in adults. People with this form of ADHD often lose focus, are forgetful, and seem to have trouble listening.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: Careless Mistakes

A child with inattentive ADHD may rush through a quiz, missing questions he knows the answers to or skipping whole sections in his haste. An adult may fail to carefully proofread a document or email at work, drawing unwanted attention and embarrassment. If you tell yourself to slow down and pay attention, but find it mentally painful and physically uncomfortable to do so, this may be a sign of inattentive ADHD. Your brain is aching to jump to the next thing, and ultimately you just have to give in.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: Short Attention Span

Unfinished classwork, half-done art projects, and incomplete reading assignments are all hallmark signs of attention problems in students. Adults with inattentive ADHD despise boring work meetings 10 times more than their colleagues do, and need to be chewing gum, sipping coffee, or even standing during meetings in order to sustain their attention throughout.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: Poor Listening Skills

Students with inattentive ADHD typically get about half the instructions relayed to them verbally — if that. Their notebooks are filled with more doodles than notes, and they may need to record and listen to lectures several times to absorb all of the information. Adults don’t do well at cocktail parties. They interrupt others’ stories with their own anecdotes, never remember names, and zone out about halfway through every conversation. If you’re constantly being asked, “Weren’t you listening?” or, “Why am I wasting my breath?” that could be a sign you have inattentive ADHD.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: No Follow-Through

For children and adults alike, inattentive ADHD can manifest as a million small projects — started but never finished — laying around the house in states of disarray. The vegetable garden that got planted but never watered. The new organization system that was assembled but never used. The abandoned sheet music for the piano lessons started and then ditched after a few tough months. If you love to plan and start projects but get sidetracked and leave a trail of unfulfilled promises in your wake, that could be a sign of inattentive ADHD.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: Disorganization

Lost your phone again? Your keys? That report that’s due tomorrow? Since we’re often thinking about something else when we’re putting down important things, inattentive adults are prone to the worst of ADHD’s hallmark symptoms of disorganization. Our homes, cars, and workspaces often look like a tornado just hit them — which can fill inattentive adults with a crippling amount of shame when they compare them to others’.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: “Laziness” or “Apathy”

“He could pay attention if he tried.” “She’s just not dedicated — that’s why she misses so many deadlines. ” Unfortunately, inattentive symptoms sometimes make us look lazy or uncaring, especially if the ADHD is undiagnosed or hasn’t been disclosed. Without treatment, we’re prone to losing jobs and friends — or even developing a hard and bitter persona as a defense mechanism. If everyone’s pinned you as lazy your whole life, it’s easy to start to see yourself that way, too.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: Bermuda Triangle Syndrome

Everyone misplaces car keys or a cell phone from time to time. People with inattentive ADHD trade stories about finding their glasses in the freezer, and the frozen peas in their purse. They tend to misplace the essential things they need for living — keys, wallet, backpack, sports equipment — on a daily basis. If you have found that you need a “launch pad” near the door to ensure you don’t forget your cell phone, and couldn’t live without the locator device attached to your key ring, that could be a sign.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: Distractibility

Inattentive ADHD adults are dreamers, doodling on their notes during a big meeting or studying a fly on the wall while their spouses are asking about bills. Often nicknamed “space cadets” or written off as flaky, many people misinterpret the inattentive individual’s lack of focus as lack of interest — and can get frustrated by their inability to pay attention, especially when it’s important that they do so.

Inattentive ADHD Symptom: Forgetfulness

How many times have you missed a scheduled doctor or dentist appointment in the last year? Inadvertently stood up friends for lunch? Joined a conference call 20 minutes late because you forgot all about it? These are all common occurrences for adults with inattentive ADHD, who struggle to pay bills on time, return friends’ messages, and send out birthday cards on time. This may be perceived as rudeness or laziness, but this behavior is rarely done on purpose.

Combined Type ADHD: Daily Symptoms

People with combined type ADHD have at least six of the daily characteristics of inattentive and hyperactive types.

If you think that you have one of the above three types of ADHD, you should see a medical professional for an official diagnosis. Learn more in our comprehensive diagnosis guide.

Types of ADHD: Next Steps

  • Learn: Treatment Options for ADHD – Medication, Nutrition, Therapy & More
  • Download: How Is ADHD Diagnosed? Your Free Guide
  • Watch: Are There Really 3 Types of ADHD?
  • Read: What is Complex ADHD?

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View Article Sources

1 Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychiatric Association (2013). https://www.(d(.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html

2 Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychiatric Association (2013). https://www.(d(.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html

3 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health (2008).

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Types of ADHD: Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, and More

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that impacts an individual’s emotions, behaviors, and the ability to learn new things. It mainly affects children, but can also occur in adults.

The effects of ADHD can vary from person to person. To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must have an impact on your day-to-day life. Here’s what to know about the different types of ADHD plus how they’re diagnosed and treated.

ADHD is divided into three main types:

  • inattentive type
  • hyperactive-impulsive type
  • combination type

Each type of ADHD is tied to one or more characteristics. ADHD is characterized by inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.

These behaviors often present in the following ways:

  • Inattention: getting distracted, having poor concentration and organizational skills
  • Hyperactivity: never seeming to slow down, talking and fidgeting, difficulties staying on task
  • Impulsivity: interrupting, taking risks

Everyone is different, so it’s common for two people to experience the same symptoms in different ways. For example, these behaviors are often different in boys and girls. Boys may be seen as more hyperactive, and girls may be quietly inattentive.

The symptoms you experience will determine which type of ADHD you have.

Inattentive type

If you have this type of ADHD, you may experience more symptoms of inattention than those of impulsivity and hyperactivity. You may struggle with impulse control or hyperactivity at times. But these aren’t the main characteristics of inattentive ADHD.

People who experience inattentive behavior often:

  • miss details and are distracted easily
  • get bored quickly
  • have trouble focusing on a single task
  • have difficulty organizing thoughts and learning new information
  • lose pencils, papers, or other items needed to complete a task
  • don’t seem to listen
  • move slowly and appear as if they’re daydreaming
  • process information more slowly and less accurately than others
  • have trouble following directions

More girls are diagnosed with inattentive type ADHD than boys.

Hyperactive-impulsive type

This type of ADHD is characterized by symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity. People with this type can display signs of inattention, but it’s not as marked as the other symptoms.

People who are impulsive or hyperactive often:

  • squirm, fidget, or feel restless
  • have difficulty sitting still
  • talk constantly
  • touch and play with objects, even when inappropriate to the task at hand
  • have trouble engaging in quiet activities
  • are constantly “on the go”
  • are impatient
  • act out of turn and don’t think about consequences of actions
  • blurt out answers and inappropriate comments

Children with hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD can be a disruption in the classroom. They can make learning more difficult for themselves and other students.

More boys are diagnosed with the hyperactive-impulsive type than girls.

Combined type

If you have the combination type, it means that your symptoms don’t exclusively fall within the inattention or hyperactive-impulsive behavior. Instead, a combination of symptoms from both of the categories are exhibited.

Most people, with or without ADHD, experience some degree of inattentive or impulsive behavior. But it’s more severe in people with ADHD. The behavior occurs more often and interferes with how you function at home, school, work, and in social situations.

Most children have combination type ADHD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. This type is more common in boys compared to girls. The most common symptom in preschool aged children is hyperactivity.

Symptoms can change over time, so the type of ADHD you have may change, too. ADHD can be a lifelong challenge. But medication and other treatments can help improve your quality of life.

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown. Although some have speculated that ADHD develops in response to factors like eating too much sugar, watching too much TV, or living in a chaotic environment, research has not found evidence to support these claims.

Rather, it’s thought that genetics play a role in the development of ADHD. Other factors that researchers are looking into include:

  • brain injury
  • exposure to toxins, like lead, either in pregnancy or from a young age
  • alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy
  • premature birth or low birth weight

Though there’s a lot about the causes of ADHD that’s still unknown.

ADHD can affect anyone, but it’s twice as common in males.

Symptoms of ADHD typically start to crop up at a young age, between ages 3 and 6, with the average age of diagnosis being 7 years old. Approximately 9.4 percent of all children in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD.

Though ADHD also occurs in adults. An estimated 4.4 percent of adults in the United States are living with ADHD, but research suggests these numbers are on the rise.

There isn’t a simple test that can diagnose ADHD. Children usually display symptoms before the age of 7. But ADHD shares symptoms with other disorders. Your doctor may first try to rule out conditions like depression, anxiety, and certain sleep issues before making a diagnosis.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is used across the United States to diagnose children and adults with ADHD. It includes a detailed diagnostic evaluation of behavior.

A person must show at least six of the nine major symptoms for a specific type of ADHD. To be diagnosed with combination ADHD, you must show at least six symptoms of inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior. The behaviors must be present and disruptive to everyday life for at least 6 months.

Besides showing the pattern of inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or both, the DSM-5 states that to be diagnosed, a person’s symptoms must be displayed before 12 years of age. They must also be present in more than just one setting, like at both school and home.

Symptoms must also interfere with everyday life. And these symptoms can’t be explained by another mental disorder.

An initial diagnosis may reveal one type of ADHD. But symptoms can change over time. This is important information for adults, who may need to be reevaluated.

After you’ve been diagnosed, there are a number of treatment options available. The primary goal of treatment is to manage ADHD symptoms and to promote positive behaviors.


Your doctor may recommend behavioral therapy before starting any medications. Therapy can help people with ADHD replace inappropriate behaviors with new behaviors. Or help them find ways to express feelings.

Parents can also receive behavior management training. This can help them manage their child’s behavior. It can also help them learn new skills for coping with the disorder.

Children under age 6 usually start with behavior therapy and no medications. Children ages 6 and up may benefit most from a combination of behavior therapy and medications.

Other therapeutic options, like cognitive behavioral therapy, family or marital therapy, meeting with and ADHD coach, or trying classroom management interventions may also be helpful for adults or children with ADHD.

Support groups can also provide emotional healing both to those with ADHD and their loved ones.

Online therapy options

Read our review of the best online therapy options to find the right fit for you.


Medications are available to help reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and improve the ability to focus, work, and learn, as well as physical coordination.

There are two types of ADHD medications: stimulants and nonstimulants.

Stimulants are the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications. They work fast by increasing the production of chemicals in the brain that help with thinking and attention. Between 70 to 80 percent of children have fewer symptoms while taking these medications.

Though stimulants do come with side effects, such as:

  • anxiety or irritability
  • decreased appetite
  • headaches
  • increased blood pressure
  • sleep issues
  • stomachaches
  • tics

Some nonstimulant medications are also available for treating ADHD. These can also be used to help improve focus, attention, and impulsivity. But they don’t work as quickly as stimulants.

Nonstimulants are a good option for those who aren’t seeing improvements or are experiencing negative side effects with stimulants.

Adults with ADHD often benefit from the same treatments as older children.

It’s important to work closely with your doctor to determine the best treatment or combination of treatments and the right dosage to help your ADHD.

ADHD is not preventable. To help reduce the risk of ADHD in children, expectant mothers should practice healthy habits and avoid smoking or substance abuse during pregnancy. It’s also recommended to avoiding toxins like lead.

Though even then, the baby may still go on to develop ADHD at some point.

Most children diagnosed with the disorder no longer have significant symptoms by the time they are in their mid-20s. But ADHD is a lifelong condition for many people.

You may be able to manage ADHD with therapeutic options, medication, or both. But treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s important to work with your doctor if you think your treatment plan isn’t helping you.

Hyperactivity and inattention (ADHD) | Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development

To distinguish between restlessness and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), we need to understand the root causes of ADHD, its development, the myths and prejudices associated with it, how to recognize it, and what are the most effective remedial measures.

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How important is this?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by age-related, persistent and debilitating anxiety, impulsivity, and inattention from an early age. ADHD can be divided into three subtypes based on the type of behavior that is most noticeable: 1) the attention-impaired type; 2) hyperactive-impulsive type; and 3) combined type, depending on the nature of the symptoms. This syndrome is diagnosed when the symptoms appear and cause difficulty for the child in more than one life setting, such as school, home, or away from home. By some estimates, ADHD affects between 3 and 7% of school-age children worldwide, with boys showing higher rates of ADHD than girls. ADHD typically co-occurs with other psychiatric or developmental disorders (eg, anxiety, mood disorder, learning or speech disorders, conduct disorder, and sleep disorders) in 50-66% of cases. ADHD persists into adulthood in more than half of affected children. The symptoms of ADHD and its accompanying disorders interfere with learning and appropriate behavior in school, so the percentage of children with ADHD who graduate from school is lower. As they get older, they are also more likely to experience difficulty finding employment. Other negative consequences associated with ADHD include interpersonal difficulties and an increased incidence of accidental injuries, car accidents, and teenage pregnancies. In general, ADHD is one of the major health problems and can lead to significant losses both in the lives of individuals and society.

What do we know?

ADHD is believed to be caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms of ADHD are highly heritable (76%), but the nature of the genetic influence is still undiscovered. According to the results of published studies, genetic factors leading to ADHD are also associated with other disorders. Thus, common genetic influences were found in the case of dyslexia and symptoms of inattention, symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity and oppositional conduct disorders, ADHD and symptoms of autism. Moreover, genes responsible for cell division, cell adhesion, and neuronal migration have been suggested to be related to the onset of ADHD. In terms of environmental risk factors, here the researchers noted the negative impact of smoking and drinking by the mother during the prenatal period, maternal depression, low birth weight of the newborn, poor parenting practices, and living in disadvantaged areas.

Children with ADHD experience more learning difficulties than their classmates due to neurocognitive impairment and behaviour. ADHD is often associated with deficits in executive functions (eg, planning, organization, attention to important details, and impulse inhibition). Accordingly, children diagnosed with this disorder are more likely to experience learning and/or speech difficulties. The results of neurophysiological studies suggest that ADHD is associated with atypical activity in the frontal cortex, the area of ​​the brain responsible for cognitive processes. However, it is important to note that only a certain proportion of school-age children with ADHD (30%) have weak executive functions, which makes it possible to consider them neither as a necessary nor as a sufficient cause of the disorder.

What can be done?


ADHD is usually first detected and treated in school-aged children. However, the presence of symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention during preschool years is considered a major factor in the diagnosis. Direct observation of the child suggests a diagnosis, but a child with even the most severe symptoms may be calm and attentive in an unusual setting such as a doctor's office. Therefore, the survey should focus on obtaining the entire history of the child's behavior at home, during play and at school from early childhood to the time of the survey. A routine clinical conversation (interview) provides an opportunity to discuss how parents and educators have responded to the child's difficulties and to identify strategies that have worked and those that have not worked. Examination should not be limited to symptoms of ADHD, but should also be asked about associated symptoms that may be present, such as anxiety, mood and behavioral problems, for example. Parents are not always fully aware of how stressful environments can upset a child; this is why talking directly to the child can be an important part of the examination. Comorbid disorders are an important area of ​​treatment, and their presence can affect the effectiveness of therapy.

Many clinicians recognize that the parent-teacher rating scale is useful in the diagnostic process as a way of obtaining a description of a child's behavior that can be easily compared to age norms. Some children with high levels of restlessness (restlessness), inattention and impulsivity have medical problems or developmental delays that should be identified during the examination. Children with learning difficulties may show symptoms at school and during homework because they have difficulty learning the material. Other children may show symptoms at home, which only indicates some problems in the environment of the child, social difficulties or parenting problems. In the doctor's office, it can be very difficult to determine which children have specific learning problems. Therefore, consultation with an educational psychologist can be very helpful in getting a complete picture of a child's strengths and weaknesses.

Corrective intervention

Stimulant medications (such as methylphenidate, Ritalin TM ) in various short-acting and long-acting forms play an important role in the treatment of ADHD. Some time ago, non-stimulant medications such as Atomoxetine became available and play an important role in the treatment. These medications can help a large number of sick people improve their attention, control impulses and reduce their level of activity. Also effective are intensive behavioral interventions that combine teaching the child self-control with teaching parenting strategies. Positive parental attention, rewards for appropriate behavior, and the negative consequences of inappropriate behavior (such as forbidding a child to play with a favorite toy) are recommended methods of behavioral intervention. Educators can also apply similar methods in their classrooms. Available evidence suggests that the best corrective intervention is a combination of medication, behavioral intervention, and school-based behavioral and learning interventions. For optimal effect, these treatments must be intensive and long-term. Direct training of cognitive functions such as working memory (the ability to retain and process information in short-term memory) seems promising as a potentially effective intervention. Some children may have improved behavior when certain foods are removed from their diet, although the universality of this effect has not been proven. Brain electrical activity training can improve alertness and behavior in some children. In this regard, the main problem of such treatment is the generalization of positive dynamics and its transfer to another environment. Further research is needed to explore treatment factors (individual and context-specific) in order to increase the beneficial effects of treating children over time and in different settings.

Read more

Additional materials

Understanding ADHD: When does normal become abnormal?

Many people claim that genuine ADHD appears in the preschool years and that the symptoms associated with it are objective, implying that any observer would come to the same conclusion. This view is often, but not always, correct.

While the right to diagnose this disorder in preschool children is left to specialists, in everyday settings parents are experts on their children. If they notice that their child is restless, inattentive, or impulsive, that he has difficulty controlling his reactions, that he needs to move, or that he has difficulty waiting his turn, then caregivers should listen.

Ideally, the specialist will work with parents to observe the child's behavior in different settings and to assess whether the problem is something else (e.g., parental expectations, coping strategies, stress level, or socio-economic situation).

In some cases, ADHD symptoms may appear much later in development, after school entry or even later in the school years.

In all cases, the decisive factor in the diagnosis will be the deterioration of the condition - whether on a social, educational or emotional level.


Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Epidemiology, Comorbidity and Diagnosis

How to help a hyperactive child?

ADHD can affect all areas of a person's life. Children with ADHD who participate in early intervention programs tend to need less help in school, the court system, and the health care system later in life. Children with ADHD can also be improved by adding medication to educational and other interventions. The use of medications can help reduce the severity of symptoms and thus facilitate the implementation of corrective intervention.

Early intervention can help children improve:

  • Self-control - how they control their emotions and behavior
  • Executive functions - structuring and planning, decision making, judgment
  • be self-confident
  • School performance - the ability to sit still, listen, understand and progress well in school in accordance with one's stage of development.

Getting help at an early age can have a short and long-term positive effect on children, reducing the severity of problems associated with ADHD, such as learning disabilities, anxiety, depression and conduct problems.


ADHD and treatment

Difference between attention disorders with similar symptoms.

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed conduct disorder in children under 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When a child suffers from forgetfulness, restlessness, absent-mindedness and sleep problems, they are most often diagnosed with ADHD, but there are many other disorders and diseases that could also cause these symptoms.

When the symptoms of different disorders overlap, it can easily be confusing. Searching for symptoms like impulsivity, poor concentration, and more can lead you to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Auditory Perception Disorder (ASD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and more.

You need to work with a professional you trust to get a comprehensive assessment of your child. Sometimes it happens that a child has more than one disorder, and sometimes it happens that a child is misdiagnosed. The types of correction can be very different for each diagnosis, so the key to proper treatment is understanding what exactly you are dealing with.

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When preparing for an appointment with a specialist, you need to be extremely careful and record all the details of your child's behavior so that you can provide a complete picture of what is happening at home. Understanding your child's symptoms can be tricky, so we've listed the three most common disorders that share symptoms with ADHD to help you better understand the similarities and differences between these disorders.

ADHD and Autism (ASD)

The two disorders have many similar symptoms, but it is important to remember that they are different. A child can have ADHD and ASD at the same time, but ADHD is a physiological disorder and autism is a variation of a neurological disorder. Depending on the diagnosis of ADHD, autism, or both, you will receive different treatment recommendations. Listed below are symptoms for each of the disorders, as well as similar symptoms for both disorders.


  • Easily distracted

  • Always in the clouds

  • Forgetful

  • Does not listen when spoken to

  • Does not follow directions well

  • Poor pulse control

  • Finishes things with difficulty

  • Problems with self-organization

  • Impatient, unable to wait in line

  • Interrupts others

  • Acts without regard for consequences

  • Playing rough

General symptoms

  • When a child is upset, it often leads to scandals

  • Difficulty making friends, holding conversations and responding appropriately

  • Constantly fidgets, moves and touches objects in his hands

  • Does not understand nonverbal cues


  • Avoids eye contact

  • Shy to touch

  • Speech problems

  • Frequently repeats the same phrases

  • Gets used to the routine and gets upset if it changes

  • Calms down with repetitive body movements (rocking, snapping fingers, etc. )

  • Obsessed with an interest in something

  • Problem with understanding the feelings of others and expressing empathy

ADHD and HSI (hearing impairment)

Although they are two physiological disorders with several similar symptoms, ADHD and HF are very different. Distinguishing their symptoms is not always easy, but necessary in order to find the right help. Children with ADHD have trouble concentrating, and children with NSW have difficulty processing the information they hear. Hearing loss affects language skills, and children with ADHD have impaired executive function and memory and find it difficult to manage their emotions. Listed below are similarities and differences in symptoms.


  • Always in the clouds

  • Poor pulse control

  • Finishes things with difficulty

  • Problems with self-organization

  • Impatient, unable to wait his turn

  • Interrupts others

  • Acts without regard for consequences

  • Playing rough

  • When a child is upset, it often leads to scandals

  • Difficulty making friends, holding conversations and responding appropriately

  • Constantly fidgets, moves and touches objects in his hands

  • Does not understand nonverbal cues

General symptoms

  • Does not listen when spoken to, as if dropped out of the conversation

  • Forgetful

  • Does not follow directions well

  • Easily distracted


  • Difficulty holding a conversation

  • Difficult to answer if asked aloud

  • Frequently asks to repeat what has been said

  • Frequently asks: “huh?” "what?"

  • Doesn't follow verbal directions well

  • May have speech problems, possibly confusing similar sounds

  • Can't rhyme

  • Poor listening comprehension

  • Prefers to read a book by himself rather than having someone read to him

Help your child quickly develop auditory perception, concentration, memory and other key cognitive functions!

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ADHD and learning disorders (dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, etc.


The symptoms of ADHD and learning disorders can be very similar, depending on which learning disorder the child has. Although 30-50% of children with ADHD also have some form of learning disorder, ADHD itself is not considered a learning disorder. You may see similar behaviors and symptoms, or you may have a child with both ADHD and a learning disorder. Since the causes of a child's difficulties can be very different, interventions (methods of assistance) should be selected individually, depending on the situation. Here are some symptoms of ADHD and learning disorders that can show up in children:


  • Does not listen when spoken to, as if dropped out of the conversation

  • Always in the clouds

  • Does not follow directions well

  • Impatient, unable to wait his turn

  • Interrupts others

  • Acts without regard for consequences

  • Playing rough

  • When a child is upset, it often leads to scandals

  • Difficulty making friends, holding conversations and responding appropriately

  • Constantly fidgets, moves and touches objects in his hands

  • Does not understand nonverbal cues

General symptoms

  • Forgetful, "lazy and unmotivated"

  • Does not follow directions well

  • Problems with self-organization

  • Problems with concentration

  • Inappropriate reaction in various situations

  • Easily distracted

Learning disorders

  • Speech delay

  • Poorly developed social skills and coordination

  • Difficulties with written words and rapid letter recognition

  • Difficulties with pronunciation of words aloud

  • Difficulties with independent reading and memorization

  • Difficulty in organizing thoughts

  • Poor understanding of the concept of time and everything connected with it

Recognizing symptoms or understanding the causes of disorders is not always easy, especially when disorders have so many similar symptoms.

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