Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder that is characterized by difficulty with organization and attention. ADHD affects approximately 1 in 10 school-aged children and 1 in 25 adults. Boys tend to be 3 times more likely to develop ADHD and receive a diagnosis of ADHD than girls. Many individuals with ADHD may also have other mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, speech or language disorders, a learning disability, or other behavioral disorders (i.e. Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder). While it is normal for kids to display some of these symptoms, a comprehensive evaluation can determine whether the symptoms are typical childhood behaviors or indicators of ADHD. There are three different types of ADHD; predominantly inattentive type, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type, and combined type. But what about ADD? This is an outdated term/diagnosis that is still used sometimes and that may be confusing. The DSM-5 lists the criteria for ADHD and the 3 subtypes and is used by psychologists during an evaluation to determine if a child or adult meets criteria for ADHD. ADHD can only be diagnosed if the symptoms are impairing the individual’s functioning. The symptoms of each are listed below.
ADHD, Impulsive/Hyperactivity Type: Often blurting out answers before a question has been completed, has difficulty waiting his/her turn, talking excessively, is often “on the go” as if driven by a motor, frequently fidgets with hands or feet and may squirm in his/her seat, frequently interrupts others, has difficulty remaining seated or in a specific area when directed to do so such as in school, and has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
ADHD, Inattentive Type: Often does not follow through on directions and fails to complete tasks, has difficulty organizing tasks and activities, avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, often fails to pay attention to details which may lead to making careless mistakes, does not seem to be paying attention when spoken to directly, is easily distracted, may be frequently forgetful in daily activities, and often loses things necessary for daily activities.
ADHD, Combined Type: Just as the name suggests, this subtype of ADHD is used when an individual displays symptoms that fall into the Impulsive/Hyperactive type and the Inattentive type.
Look for our next blog which will talk more about how to more effectively work with children with ADHD and also descriptions of common ADHD treatment.