Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What Is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common condition that affects children and adolescents and can continue into adulthood for some.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 3% to 5% of children have ADHD. Some experts, though, say ADHD may occurs in 8% to 10% of school-aged children. Some experts also question whether kids really outgrow ADHD. What that means is that this disorder may be more common in adults than previously thought.
In some people, the signs of ADHD seem obvious -- fidgeting constantly, difficulty paying attention in school or at work, and leaving tasks unfinished. For others, particularly those without behavior problems, ADHD may be more difficult to diagnose.
The symptoms of ADHD may mimic those of other conditions, and sometimes the signs are subtler and harder to distinguish. One psychiatrist, Daniel Amen, MD, believes that to get a truly accurate diagnosis of ADHD, it is necessary to look inside the...
Children with ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating. They can't seem to follow directions and are easily bored or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and are impulsive, not stopping to think before they act. These behaviors can be normal in children. But they occur more often than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD.
The behaviors that are common with ADHD interfere with a child's ability to function at school and at home.
Adults with ADHD may have difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addictions.
What are ADHD symptoms in children?
Symptoms of ADHD in children are generally grouped into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.
Inattention -- A child with ADHD:
Is easily distracted
Does not follow directions or finish tasks
Does not appear to be listening when someone is speaking
Does not pay attention and makes careless mistakes
Is forgetful about daily activities
Has problems organizing daily tasks
Avoids or dislikes activities that require sitting still or a sustained effort
Often loses things, including personal items
Has a tendency to daydream
Hyperactivity -- A child with ADHD:
Often squirms, fidgets, or bounces when sitting
Does not stay seated as expected
Has difficulty playing quietly
Is always moving, such as running or climbing on things (In teens and adults, this is more commonly described as a sense of restlessness)
Impulsivity -- A child with ADHD:
Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn
Blurts out answers before the question has been completed