Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder of childhood that can continue into adulthood. There are three subtypes of ADHD, predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, and combined type, but all involve difficulty paying attention and staying focused.
In order to be diagnosed, symptoms of ADHD must exist for at least six months and be inappropriate for the child’s developmental level or age, must occur in two or more settings, must cause clinically significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning, and some symptoms that caused impairment must exist by age 6 years.
Children with predominantly inattentive type are less likely to act out or have problems getting along with others. They do not disrupt classrooms or other group environments and therefore are often not recognized as having attention deficit. They may sit quietly, but are not paying attention, and are often described as not listening to instructions, not following through or completing tasks, not paying attention to detail, making careless mistakes, daydreamers, forgetful, easily distracted, disorganized and clumsy.
Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
Teachers and parents more easily identify children with predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type, and their behavior often gets them into trouble in the classroom and other group settings. They are described as fidgety, squirmy, unable to stay seated, restless, hyperactive, excessive talkers, having trouble waiting for their turn, interrupting, intruding into conversations or games, running, climbing, moving excessively, having difficulty doing things quietly.
Children with combined type, show signs of both inattentive type and hyperactive-impulsive type. Combined type is thought to be the most common type of ADHD.
ADHD can take a toll on a child’s relationships with family members, can impact his or her ability to make friends and be accepted in school and other group settings, and can be a source of stress to the household.
Once ADHD is identified, treatment for the individual’s symptoms can begin, and most people can manage their symptoms and lead successful, productive lives, however, there is no cure. Treatments include medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and parent skills training.
The next step
The first step is to obtain a thorough neuropsychological assessment to determine if your child has ADHD and if so, what is the type.