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. Experts also question whether kids really outgrow ADHD. What that means is that this disorder may be more common in adults than previously thought.
The symptoms of ADHD include inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. These are traits that most children display at some point or another. But to establish a diagnosis of ADHD, sometimes referred to as ADD, the symptoms should be inappropriate for the child's age.
Adults also can have ADHD; in fact, up to half of adults diagnosed with the disorder had it as children. When ADHD persists into adulthood, symptoms may vary. For instance, an adult may experience restlessness instead of hyperactivity...
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 are generally common 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