Understanding the Symptoms of ADHD

When children struggle with attention problems that affect behavior and learning it can be difficult for parents to know if the child is showing signs and symptoms of ADHD. Recognizing the early signs of ADHD ensures that children get the help they need to promote healthy learning and behavior and to support their overall success.

ADHD Symptoms

ADHD is a biological disorder characterized by chronic inattention and varying degrees of impulsivity, distractibility and short attention. The three different types of ADHD include inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined types. Clinical diagnosis of ADHD includes a presence of symptoms greater than six month, with an onset of symptoms before age 7. The symptoms must be present in a variety of settings, such as home, school, and social situations.

There is not a specific medical test to diagnose ADHD. A diagnosis of ADHD requires parent report and clinical observation at minimum. There are variations of an ADHD symptoms test available so parents and clinicians can assess whether or not ADHD may be a consideration.

Depending upon the subtype of ADHD, items identified on an ADHD symptoms checklist include:

  • short attention span
  • Impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Restlessness or fidgety behavior
  • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play (problems with vigilance)
  • Difficulty waiting turns
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Loses things necessary for tasks, unorganized
  • Often engages in dangerous activities without considering consequences

To diagnose ADHD, a multi-disciplinary team approach is best, with comprehensive information gathered including medical records, educational testing, psychological and or neurological information, along with the completion of behavioral rating scales by the child’s parents and teachers. Before a diagnosis of ADHD is made, it is important for a qualified professional to rule out any other medical, emotional or environmental causes that could result in similar presenting symptoms.

In addition to medication and traditional therapy, some of the latest approaches include correcting nutritional imbalances or deficiencies, identifying food allergies or intolerances, and utilizing biofeedback or other alternative therapies aimed at supporting healthy brain function. With advances in research and increased educational and behavioral support services, ADHD is a manageable condition with promising outcomes for affected individuals.