Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic mental condition primarily affects children, it can also persist into adulthood. Most ADHD patients start experiencing symptoms before age 7.
While ADHD symptoms vary based on individual cases, symptoms generally fall into three categories:
- impulsive behavior
To be diagnosed with ADHD, children must exhibit six or more symptoms for a period of over six months. Another factor central to diagnosing ADHD is whether symptoms interfere with two or more areas of the child’s life, including:
- family life
- social life or time with friends.
Hyperactivity and Impulsive Behavior Symptoms
ADHD hyperactivity and impulsive behavior symptoms include:
- always being on the go or moving
- blurting out answers to questions before the question is finished
- constant fidgeting or squirming
- constant restlessness, including running and climbing in inappropriate places
- difficulty playing quietly
- difficulty taking turns or waiting for a turn
- often getting up and walking around in situations where sitting is expected or required, such as in school
- often interrupting or intruding in the conversations or activities of others
- talking more than normal.
ADHD inattention symptoms include:
- avoiding or showing dislike of activities that require focus, including schoolwork
- being easily distracted
- being forgetful
- constantly losing possessions, assignments and other items
- failing to pay attention at school
- difficulty finishing assignments or chores
- difficulty focusing attention on school or during play activities
- difficulty following directions
- making careless mistakes in schoolwork and activities
- not listening even when being spoken to directly
- organizational problems.
Keep in mind that all children exhibit some of these symptoms at one time or another. Young children are often restless, inattentive and hyperactive, but that does not mean they necessarily have ADHD. ADHD exists if the symptoms are severe and frequent enough to affect the child’s life.
Diagnosing ADHD can be difficult because there is no definitive test for the condition. While family doctors and pediatricians can diagnose ADHD and prescribe medication or treatment for the condition, consider getting a second opinion from a therapist to rule out other mental conditions, which could be to blame for symptoms.
Family history, school history and medical history all play a role in making a proper ADHD diagnosis. Doctors will also perform a comprehensive medical exam to eliminate other possible medical conditions that may be producing symptoms that mimic those of ADHD.
Questionnaires and interviews, both of the child and people who deal closely with the child, may also help to evaluate the child’s condition.
When diagnosing ADHD, the more information you can provide the doctors, the better. Parents should document the frequency of symptoms to help medical professionals diagnose the problem and determine whether or not a child is suffering from ADHD.
Mayo Clinic (2007). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved August 15, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://mayoclinic.com/health/adhd/DS00275.
National Institute of Mental Health (2006). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from the NIMH Web site: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/adhd.cfm.