ADHD: Recognizing the Symptoms

CHADD helps to build knowledge during ADHD Awareness Month in October

LANHAM, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Everyone can have difficulty sitting still, paying attention or
controlling impulsive behavior now and then. But for some, these issues
are so pervasive and persistent that they interfere with the activities
of daily life. This indicates the presence of
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common
neurodevelopmental disorder that affects eight percent of school-age
children and more than four percent of adults in the United States. How
do you know when you or a loved one should seek a professional
evaluation? CHADD
(Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)—the
nation’s leading resource on ADHD—explains the signs to look for.

The classification system found in the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the gold standard used by healthcare
professionals when evaluating patients for ADHD. To be diagnosed,
children should have six or more symptoms of the disorder present, while
adolescents age 17 and older and adults should have at least five
symptoms present. The DSM-5 lists three different presentations of
ADHD—Predominantly Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive and Combined. The
symptoms for each are summarized below. The DSM-5 also requires
professionals to determine the severity of the disorder as mild,
moderate or severe, as ADHD affects individuals to varying degrees.

ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention
  • Does not appear to listen
  • Struggles to follow through with instructions
  • Has difficulty with organization
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort
  • Loses things
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair
  • Has difficulty remaining seated
  • Runs about or climbs excessively in children; extreme restlessness in
  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly
  • Acts as if driven by a motor
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Difficulty waiting or taking turns; interrupts or intrudes upon others

ADHD Combined Presentation

  • Meets the criteria for both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD
  • Symptoms can change over time, so children may fit different
    presentations as they get older

As there is no single test to diagnose ADHD, a comprehensive evaluation
by a professional is necessary to establish a diagnosis, rule out other
causes, and determine the presence or absence of co-existing conditions.
Such an evaluation requires time and effort and should include a careful
history and a clinical assessment of the individual’s academic, social,
and emotional functioning and developmental level. There are several
types of professionals who can diagnose ADHD, including clinical
psychologists, clinical social workers, nurse practitioners,
neurologists, psychiatrists and pediatricians.

When not properly identified, diagnosed and treated, ADHD can have
serious consequences, including academic and work failure, family stress
and disruption, depression, relationship problems, substance abuse,
accidental injuries, and financial and legal difficulties. ADHD is very
manageable using an individualized, multimodal treatment approach that
can include behavioral interventions, parent and patient training,
educational support and medication. With the proper treatment,
individuals with ADHD can be highly successful.

To learn more, visit
or call 310.306.7070.


CHADD is the leading resource on attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), providing support, training, education and advocacy for
the 17 million children and adults in the United States living with
ADHD, their families, educators and healthcare professionals. As home to
the National Resource Center on ADHD, funded by the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, CHADD is the most trusted source of
reliable, science-based information regarding current medical research
and ADHD management.


Barbara Link, 610-668-2855