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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

Your child can't sit still. He's talking a mile a minute. Is he just a high-energy kid? Or does he have ADHD?

Hyperactivity is just one sign of ADHD. It describes kids who appear to be in perpetual motion.

Hyperactivity is usually paired with impulsivity. That's a tendency to interrupt conversations or play out of turn. Hyperactive-impulsive type differs from inattentive type ADHD, which includes children who have trouble focusing and are easily distracted.

So how do you know whether your child has hyperactive-impulsive ADHD? And if your child does have ADHD, what treatments can calm his energy?

How to Know When Your Child Has Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD

No one test can confirm that your child has the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD. Your doctor will first try to rule out other conditions that can cause hyperactivity, such as emotional issues or stress. Sometimes vision problems or  learning disabilities can cause a child to be fidgety.

The doctor will also look for at least six of these symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity:

  • Fidgeting
  • Forgetfulness
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Talking nonstop
  • Having trouble doing quiet tasks, such as reading
  • Touching and getting into everything
  • Running from place to place
  • Banging into people or objects
  • Acting like he's "driven by a motor"
  • Constantly jumping or climbing -- on furniture and other inappropriate places
  • Being impatient
  • Blurting out comments at inappropriate times
  • Interrupting conversations or speaking out of turn
  • Having trouble waiting for a turn or standing in line

To be considered ADHD, a child's symptoms must be more severe than normal for children that age. Many children who like to run and jump may be high-energy, but not hyperactive. Also, the behaviors must have occurred for at least 6 months.

A child with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD usually won't show many signs of inattention, which include trouble focusing and becoming easily distracted. However, many kids have a combination of hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive ADHD.

What Causes Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD?

The causes of ADHD aren't entirely clear. Scientists say the condition is due in large part to genes. But experts aren't sure yet which specific genes contribute to ADHD. A child is more likely to have ADHD if a close family member also has the condition.

Other factors that may influence ADHD risk include:

  • Cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Exposure to lead during early childhood
  • Brain injuries

Many parents claim sugar makes their child hyperactive. But there is no real evidence that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes it worse.

There may be a link between ADHD and food additives such as artificial colors and preservatives. But that connection still has to be confirmed by studies.

ADHD Treatments

Once your child's doctor has diagnosed hyperactive-impulsive ADHD and has ruled out other possible causes, the next step is to investigate treatments. Every child needs a different approach. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to find the right treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

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