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Symptoms that Lead to ADHD Diagnosis

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, affects approximately 11 percent of American children (6.4 million people). Symptoms of ADHD typically manifest by the age of 12, and are present in several different settings (for example, both school and home). There are two major categories of symptoms: Inattention, and Hyperactivity and Impulsivity. Read on to learn more about the ADHD symptoms that fall into each category.

Inattention Symptoms

To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must show six or more of the following symptoms for at least six months:

  • Lack of attention to detail, including careless mistakes in schoolwork that result
  • Trouble holding attention even during play
  • Trouble focusing and listening even when spoken to directly
  • Difficulty following through on instructions, such as with assignments or chores
  • Avoidance of tasks that require extensive follow through, such as homework
  • Frequently losing items needed on a daily basis, such as glasses, school supplies, books, and notes
  • Easily distracted
  • Persistent forgetfulness
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

In addition to the inattention symptoms listed above, a child diagnosed with ADHD typically displays six or more of the following symptoms for at least six months:

  • Fidgeting behaviors or an inability to sit still for long periods
  • Inability to stay seated for long periods
  • Running or climbing in inappropriate settings
  • Inability to play quietly
  • Constantly on the go
  • Excessively talkative
  • Unable to wait to be called on in class
  • Trouble taking turns
  • Frequently interrupts

Keep in mind that these symptoms constitute ADHD only if they are developmentally inappropriate for a child’s age.

Symptoms of Adult ADHD

Even if ADHD is successfully treated in children, it may continue to exist in adulthood if treatment is not continued. In rare circumstances, ADHD can also manifest for the first time in adulthood. The symptoms of adult ADHD are slightly different than those for children and may include:

  • Difficulty getting or staying organized
  • Frequent traffic accidents or tickets
  • Marital problems
  • Distractibility
  • Poor listening skills
  • Trouble relaxing
  • Procrastination and trouble prioritizing tasks
  • Chronic lateness
  • Angry outbursts

If your child is exhibiting ADHD symptoms, talk to his or her pediatrician. They typically make a referral to a child psychologist who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.

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