Written by eHN Staff

What is Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the name of a group of behaviors found in many children and adults. People who have ADHD have trouble paying attention in school, at home or at work. They may be much more active and/or impulsive than what is usual for their age. These behaviors contribute to significant problems in relationships, learning and behavior. For this reason, children who have ADHD are sometimes seen as being "difficult" or as having behavior problems.

ADHD is more common in boys than in girls. You may be more familiar with the term attention deficit disorder (ADD). This disorder was renamed in 1994 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

The child with ADHD who is inattentive will have 6 or more of the following symptoms:
•  Has difficulty following instructions
•  Has difficulty keeping attention on work or play activities at school and at home
•  Loses things needed for activities at school and at home
•  Appears not to listen
•  Doesn't pay close attention to details
•  Seems disorganized
•  Has trouble with tasks that require planning ahead
•  Forgets things
•  Is easily distracted
•  Constantly fidgety
•  Runs or climbs inappropriately
•  Can't play quietly
•  Blurts out answers
•  Interrupts people
•  Can't stay in seat
•  Talks too much
•  Is always on the go
•  Has trouble waiting his or her turn

Children who have ADHD have symptoms for at least 6 months.

If you think your child has ADHD, talk with your child's doctor. A diagnosis of ADHD can be made only by getting information about your child's behavior from several people who know your child. Your doctor will ask you questions and may want to get information from your child's teachers or anyone else who is familiar with your child's behavior. Your doctor may have forms or checklists that you and your child's teacher can fill out. This will help you and your doctor compare your child's behavior with other children's behavior in the same age/education/social level.

Your doctor may want to test your child’s vision and hearing if these tests have not been performed recently to eliminate other possibilities that may be contributing to the child’s symptoms.

Your doctor may recommend trying medicine to see if it helps control your child's hyperactive behavior. A trial of medicine alone cannot be the basis for diagnosing ADHD however; it can be an important part of evaluating your child if ADHD is suspected.

Diagnosis ADHD is sometimes difficult. Your doctor may recommend your child see someone who specializes in helping children who have behavior problems, such as a pediatric psychologist.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 3:36PM