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Signs and symptoms of ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a behavioral condition marked by difficulty sitting still, paying attention and controlling impulsive behavior, is a prevalent problem across the globe. According to the organization Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a meta-analysis of 175 studies conducted worldwide estimates that 129 million children have ADHD.

Parents of children who are exhibiting difficulty concentrating in school or controlling their impulsive behavior should not immediately assume their youngsters have ADHD. Nearly everyone, adults and children included, struggles to concentrate from time to time. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the classification and diagnostic tool used by the American Psychiatric Association for psychiatric diagnosis, several symptoms must be present before a child turns 12 for that child to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Part of the difficulty in diagnosing ADHD can be traced to the impulsivity and inattentiveness typical of children under the age of four. Because of that potential for misdiagnosis, parents should resist the urge to diagnose children without having their youngsters examined by a licensed psychiatrist. Parents who are concerned their child might have ADHD can look for certain symptoms, which can fall under three main categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.


It can be difficult to notice signs that a child is inattentive until he or she enters school, where kids must focus on classroom lessons and homework. But symptoms of inattention may include:

• Careless mistakes when performing certain tasks, including schoolwork and chores

• Difficulty sustaining attention when playing or performing certain tasks

• Difficulty listening when being spoken to directly

• Failure to follow instructions

• Failure to finish certain tasks, including chores and schoolwork

• Difficulty organizing

• Unwillingness to engage in activities that require prolonged mental effort


Kids can be easily excited, and parents may mistake that excitement for symptoms of hyperactivity. And while children under the age of four tend to curious and inattentive, some kids begin to exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity as early as preschool.

• Excessive fidgeting

• Squirming in seats

• Leaving seat when remaining seated is required, such as in classroom settings

• Difficulty playing quietly

• Running or climbing at inappropriate times

• Talking excessively


Youngsters who act impulsively may do things without thinking about their actions or words beforehand. While this is common in young children and may not indicate ADHD, frequent impulsive behavior should be discussed with a pyschiatrist.

• Frequently provides answers before questions have been completed

• Difficulty waiting his or her turn

• Frequently interrupts others

• Intrudes on others by butting into conversations or games

ADHD affects more than 120 million children across the globe. Parents who suspect their children are exhibiting symptoms of ADHD can visit for more information.