Signs my child has adhd

The Signs of ADHD in Children and Adults

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect your ability to function in many different aspects of your life, such as at school, at work, and even at home.

Although ADHD can cause visible challenges in everyday life, the symptoms in children and adults vary and are sometimes difficult to recognize.

ADHD is generally diagnosed in children by the time they’re teenagers, with the average age for moderate ADHD diagnosis being 7 years old. Adults with ADHD may have exhibited elaborate symptoms early in life that were overlooked, leading to a late diagnosis later in life.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the common signs and symptoms of ADHD in children and adults, as well as tips for living with ADHD and where to find support.

ADHD primarily causes symptoms related to inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or a combination of both.

With ADHD, someone may experience difficulties paying attention and staying organized, excess fidgeting or restlessness, and trouble with self-control or impulsive behaviors.

In children or toddlers with ADHD, this can lead to symptoms at home, in day care, or at school, such as:

  • trouble focusing on activities and becoming easily distracted
  • low attention span while playing or doing schoolwork
  • fidgeting, squirming, or otherwise having trouble sitting still
  • constantly needing movement or frequently running around
  • engaging in activities loudly or disruptively
  • excess talking and interrupting other people

Symptoms of ADHD in teenagers

As children with ADHD get older, the symptoms they experience may change. In some cases, certain symptoms seen in childhood may become less problematic in adolescence, while new symptoms can arise amidst the changing responsibilities that accompany growing older.

In adolescents and teenagers with ADHD, other symptoms that may appear can include:

  • difficulty focusing on schoolwork or other work
  • frequently making mistakes while doing work
  • trouble finishing tasks, especially schoolwork or chores
  • trouble with task organization and time management
  • frequently forgetting things or losing personal items
  • frequently avoiding mentally taxing tasks
  • experiencing increased frustration and emotional sensitivity
  • trouble navigating social and familial relationships
  • increased conflict with parents due to ADHD symptoms affecting the home life

It’s important to understand that while these symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity can sometimes cause adolescents and teenagers with this condition to appear “immature,” they are simply a part of ADHD and have nothing to do with a child’s maturity level.

Although most people with ADHD receive a diagnosis during childhood, sometimes the signs and symptoms of this condition are overlooked or misinterpreted.

But as long as the symptoms of ADHD have been present for that individual before 12 years of age, they can still receive a diagnosis in adulthood.

In adults, the symptoms of ADHD can appear different than those in adolescence or childhood due to the different responsibilities someone may have in adulthood. According to the literature, adults tend to experience:

  • difficulties at college or work
  • trouble passing classes or completing work
  • issues with self-esteem and overall mental well-being
  • substance misuse issues, especially with alcohol
  • relationship challenges with partners, family, or co-workers
  • frequent accidents or injuries

While ADHD affects people of all ages and genders, research suggests that ADHD is roughly four times as prevalent in males as it is in females.

The differences in ADHD between sex and genders are not just refined to the prevalence. In fact, ADHD can present differently in women than in men, which can further contribute to the reduced rate of diagnosis in women and girls.

A recent article published in BMC Psychiatry reviewed the research on different symptoms, co-occurring conditions, and the level of functioning in females who have ADHD.

According to the research, females often experience a mix of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, many of which are less severe than their male counterparts, especially in the hyperactive-impulsive category.

Other notable differences in ADHD presentation in women and girls are:

  • more severe difficulties with mood changes and emotional regulation
  • a higher likelihood of severe social problems, especially with bullying
  • an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy due to an increased number of sexual partners
  • more severe challenges in the areas of academics and self-esteem
  • increased behaviors used to compensate for difficulties at home, school, or work

In addition, ADHD symptoms seem to become more severe with age and during periods of transition, such as puberty and adulthood.

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur with menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can also cause an increase or worsening of ADHD symptoms.

ADHD in the transgender community

Most of the sources used in this article do not delineate between (and sometimes conflate) sex and gender and can be assumed to have primarily cisgender participants.

While research on ADHD within the transgender community is new, recent surveys state that transgender individuals are “significantly more likely” to report an ADHD diagnosis.

One study in Australia reports that ADHD is four times more common among transgender people than the cisgender population.

At the time of publication, no research could be found that discussed the breakdown of symptoms between trans men, trans women, and gender nonconforming people. Intersex people were also not represented.

When we look at the presentation of ADHD symptoms, age seems to be the biggest factor for differences in symptoms between individuals. However, ethnic and cultural differences can also play a significant role in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

According to research, differences in beliefs, values, and even medical approaches can impact the way that certain behaviors — many of which are the direct result of ADHD — are viewed.

In fact, various studies have shown that children who belong to marginalized ethnic groups are less likely to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment they need for their ADHD.

Other cultural factors that can influence the perception, diagnosis, and treatment of ADHD include:

  • lack of knowledge about the condition
  • fear of the stigma surrounding the condition
  • lack of trust in the medical system
  • reduced ability to recognize when symptoms are problematic
  • differences in the way certain behaviors are viewed between genders
  • language barriers for non-native English speakers
  • no access or limited access to insurance or healthcare services
  • lack of healthcare professionals who are culturally competent

All of these factors can play a role in the way that ADHD symptoms are viewed and can lead to barriers in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in historically marginalized communities.

Without treatment, ADHD can make it difficult to function at your best in your home life, at work or school, or even within your relationships.

If you believe that you, your child, or someone close to you is displaying signs of ADHD, reach out to a doctor or psychologist to ask about a potential diagnosis and start on the path to treatment.

If you’ve received an ADHD diagnosis, you might find the following treatment options can reduce symptoms and help you function better in your everyday life:

  • Therapy. Behavioral therapy is one of the most beneficial types of therapy for ADHD, especially for children and adolescents, because it helps identify the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are having the most impact.
    • In younger children with ADHD, behavioral therapies that focus on parent training, classroom management, and peer interventions are most effective.
    • In adolescents and adults, a type of behavioral therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be helpful.
  • Medication. Medications can be used alone or in conjunction with behavioral therapy to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in both children and adults.
    • According to research, psychostimulants — which are medications that increase the activity of the central nervous system — are the first-line medication for ADHD.
    • Other nonstimulant medication options for ADHD can include certain high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.
  • Lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes for ADHD involve strategies that can help you work through the inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that the condition causes. Here are some helpful ways to create structure for yourself if you have ADHD:
    • Fine tune your study skills.
    • Create organizational techniques.
    • Implement time management strategies.

Getting support

It can feel overwhelming to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, but the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. If you’re looking for more support after your diagnosis, here are a few resources to get you started:

  • Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). CHADD is an organization that focuses on providing information about ADHD, as well as resources related to support and advocacy for people with ADHD.
  • ADHD Foundation. The ADHD Foundation is a U.K.-based organization that provides education and resources for people living with ADHD, while also providing information for caretakers and professionals who care for individuals with ADHD.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA). The ADDA is another organization that provides resources for people with ADHD, including a list of virtual support programs for different groups, such as People of Color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and more.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that causes a person to experience inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, or a mixture of both.

In children, ADHD symptoms can sometimes be misunderstood by parents and caretakers, while untreated ADHD in adults can cause symptoms that significantly interfere with daily functioning.

With the right diagnosis and treatment, you can learn to manage the symptoms of ADHD and improve your overall quality of life.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Toddlers

Mental health professionals do not diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children under age 4. Certain behaviors associated with ADHD in school aged children may be considered typical in toddlers.

Professionals typically diagnose ADHD in school aged children 12 or younger. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors and healthcare professionals should not diagnose the condition in children before age 4.

ADHD is more than just typical toddler behavior. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the condition must occur over a long period and impair functioning. This is part of the reason ADHD is not typically diagnosed in toddlerhood.

While toddlers may show some signs of ADHD, it does not necessarily mean they have the condition. At this age, they may have difficulty paying attention or be hyperactive or impulsive.

But some toddler behaviors may lead some parents to wonder whether or not their child has ADHD or has a chance of developing it.

Read on for a checklist of symptoms to watch out for.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that may cause hyperactivity (constantly active behavior) and impulsive behaviors. People with ADHD, including children, typically have trouble focusing on one task. They may also have difficulty sitting still for long periods.

According to a 2019 study, some behaviors noted in toddlerhood could be related to the development of ADHD. However, considerably more research is needed.

According to the NIH, these are the three main signs of the condition in kids over age 3:

  • inattention
  • hyperactivity
  • impulsivity

These behaviors also occur in children without ADHD. A child won’t receive an ADHD diagnosis unless they have several symptoms that have been present for at least 6 months and that affect their functioning. These symptoms may affect their ability to participate in age-appropriate activities.

Great care must be taken in diagnosing ADHD in children, particularly when considering medication. A mental health professional or pediatrician will be the best at making a diagnosis at this young age.

Many mental health professionals will not make a diagnosis until the child has been in school. This is because a key criterion for ADHD is that the symptoms are present in two or more settings. For example, a child shows symptoms at home and school, or with a parent and with friends or relatives.

Several behaviors can indicate your child has difficulty with attention, a key sign of ADHD. In school aged children, symptoms of inattention may look like:

  • difficulty with sustaining attention, in play or completing work
  • difficulty listening and following directions
  • difficulty paying attention to detail and making seemingly small mistakes
  • challenges staying organized
  • avoiding tasks at home or school that require more sustained attention

Note, however, that these behaviors can also be typical in a toddler and expected for their developmental phase.

In the past, ADHD was called attention deficit disorder.

Many medical and mental health communities call the condition ADHD because the disorder often includes components of both hyperactivity and impulsivity. This is particularly true when diagnosed in preschool aged children.

Signs of hyperactivity that your toddler may display include:

  • being overly fidgety and squirmy when seated
  • being unable to sit still for calm activities like eating and having books read to them
  • talking and making noise excessively
  • running from toy to toy, or constantly being in motion
  • running around or climbing at inappropriate times

Another symptom of ADHD is impulsivity. Signs that your child has overly impulsive behaviors can include:

  • displaying extreme impatience with others
  • having difficulty waiting for their turn when playing with other children
  • interrupting when others are talking
  • speaking at inappropriate times
  • answering questions before they are fully asked or finishing other people’s sentences

Again, these can be expected behaviors in toddlers. They would only be a reason for concern if they’re extreme when compared to those of children of a similar age or if they’re affecting your toddler’s functioning.

A school aged child with ADHD may show other symptoms as well. These may include:

  • more frustration, anger, and outbursts than their peers
  • endangering oneself or others due to fearlessness
  • difficulty calming down
  • aggressive behaviors (toward self or others)
  • little need for sleep

While mental health professionals should not diagnose ADHD in toddlers, you may want to discuss your concerns with a pediatrician or mental health professional. This may help determine a diagnosis when your child reaches school age. These healthcare professionals may also offer suggestions to help with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.

Children can only receive an ADHD diagnosis when they have reached school age. Pediatricians and mental health professionals may base an ADHD diagnosis on the child’s behaviors and other symptoms.

It’s sometimes easy for parents and teachers to mistake certain behaviors for ADHD.

For example, toddlers sitting quietly and behaving in preschool may not be paying attention. Children with hyperactivity may have challenges listening to, understanding, or carrying out instructions.

Most toddlers may show hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention at times. This may look like excessive energy or trouble following directions.

If you’re concerned about your child’s behavior, you may want to speak with a pediatrician or mental health professional.

The NIH notes that ADHD can be very common among children. The CDC estimates that 2% of children ages 3 to 5 have ADHD.

If you think your toddler may be showing signs of ADHD, consider sharing your concerns with a pediatrician. They may be able to help you and your child manage the condition. They may also point out other signs to look for and guide the diagnosis process when your child is old enough.

While there is no cure for ADHD, treatment can help improve your child’s symptoms. This may include:

  • medication
  • psychotherapy, including family therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy
  • lifestyle measures

For success at school, certain classroom management tactics may also help improve your child’s attention.

Doctors and healthcare professionals do not diagnose ADHD in toddlers. They may diagnose the condition in school aged children.

Many behaviors associated with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention in school aged children may be typical behavior in toddlers.

If you have concerns about your toddler’s behavior, you may want to discuss them with a pediatrician or mental health professional.

causes, symptoms, signs, diagnosis, treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults

Symptoms of ADHD in children

Causes of pathology


Treatment methods for ADHD


Today, more and more children are being diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). As a rule, it is diagnosed in children aged 6-8 years, when the child goes to school. It is at this time that it becomes obvious that the child has pronounced problems with behavior and perception of information.

ADHD is a neurological-behavioral developmental disorder. Pathology makes itself felt in childhood, but in the absence of timely therapy, it can persist into adulthood. According to statistics, ADHD is most common in boys, but can also occur in girls. If the pathology is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, this is fraught with poor school performance, the child may develop serious social problems, which increases the risk of substance abuse in the future.

Symptoms of ADHD in children

Consider some of the signs that may signal ADHD in children:

  • The child is constantly distracted, inattentive, when communicating with him there is a feeling that he is not listening to you.
  • It is difficult for him to keep his attention on the teacher's words for a long time, because of which the understanding of information also suffers.
  • Increased activity is observed - the child literally cannot sit in one place. Even during school hours, he can get up and walk around the classroom.
  • The child is impatient, cannot wait for his turn, constantly interrupts, answers questions without waiting for them to end.
  • Children with ADHD are characterized by emotional instability, which can be manifested by frequent mood swings: a child can suddenly become irritable, tearful, and restless for no reason.
  • Disorder is typical - children with this diagnosis often lose their belongings (for example, school supplies, money, keys).
  • Problems with sleep and appetite, with daily routine.

Additionally, some neurological abnormalities may be observed. For example, a child with ADHD may have poor motor coordination, resulting in some clumsiness. Also, in some cases, twitching of the facial muscles and trembling of the limbs are observed.

The first signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are observed at the age of 2-3 years, but at this age it is difficult to determine whether they are a manifestation of pathology or normal age-related features.

However, if by the age of 6-8 years the child has not become more attentive and collected, this is an alarming sign that makes it possible to assume ADHD with a high degree of probability. That is why, if you have the above symptoms, you should definitely consult a doctor and start treatment.

Causes of pathology

There is no single reason for the development of ADHD. Many experts agree that the most common cause may be genetic mutations that lead to a disruption in the production of dopamine and the work of dopamine receptors.

Also, the causes of the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be the following factors:

  • Severe pregnancy, complicated delivery, including prolonged or rapid.
  • Use by the expectant mother during pregnancy of potent drugs, alcoholic beverages, toxic substances.
  • Serious pathologies suffered by a child at an early age, including craniocerebral trauma.
  • Psychological trauma in a child.
  • Fetal asphyxia.

It is also worth noting that this pathology has a hereditary predisposition. It was found that the presence of ADHD in parents significantly increases the likelihood of developing this syndrome in a child.


The diagnosis of ADHD is not established only on the basis of existing complaints. To accurately confirm the diagnosis, it is necessary to conduct some examinations. First of all, you need to visit a neurologist, psychiatrist and psychologist.

During the consultation, the doctor collects an anamnesis, conducts various tests, conversations, and diagnostic surveys.

In order to identify the cause of the development of ADHD, consultations with other specialists may also be required, as well as instrumental and laboratory examination methods, such as: EEG, MRI of the brain, general and biochemical blood tests.

ADHD treatments

It should be noted that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder most often has a favorable prognosis (provided that therapy is started in a timely manner). It is possible to significantly improve the behavior and learning of the child.

Depending on the severity of the pathological process and the causes of its occurrence, the doctor may prescribe such types of treatment as:

  • Medical treatment: the patient may be prescribed sedatives, antidepressants, neurostimulants.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • A clear daily routine: a balanced diet, good sleep.
  • Family therapy: if there are conflicts in the family, ADHD often develops against this background.
  • Biofeedback therapy: this method of treatment is aimed at training the child's ability to self-regulate their states with the help of computer game tasks.
  • Physiotherapy techniques, eg massage, exercise, kinesiotherapy.

Additionally, other methods of treatment can be used.


Unfortunately, it is not always possible to prevent the development of ADHD. However, there are some factors that significantly reduce the risk of developing pathology. For example, the expectant mother should follow a healthy lifestyle, eat a balanced diet, give up bad habits. Before conception, it is desirable to undergo a complete examination, if necessary, to pre-treat existing pathologies.

Also, as a prevention of ADHD, the following recommendations should be observed:

  • The child should be active, walk outdoors more often.
  • The regimen of the day and meals must be clear.
  • Monitor the child's behavior, immediately stop unacceptable behavior on his part.
  • It is very important to build a trusting relationship between parents and children.
  • Family conflicts should be avoided.

At the first signs of ADHD, it is recommended to contact specialists who will help minimize the risk of developing more serious pathologies in the future.

You can learn more about the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at a face-to-face appointment with a doctor. Be healthy!

Author of the article:

Markelov Gleb Vladimirovich

neurologist, online consultations

work experience 4 years

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