Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


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General information about symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Furthermore, symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

List of symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder includes:

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Some of the warning signs of ADHD include failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and school work, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, leaving projects, chores and homework unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details. 1

Inattention - People who are inattentive have a hard time keeping their mind on one thing and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. Focusing conscious, deliberate attention to organizing and completing routine tasks may be difficult. Signs in children include making careless mistakes in school work, being easily distracted from play, appearing as if they are not listening when spoken to, not following instructions, and avoiding or disliking tasks that require concentration, schoolwork in particular.

Hyperactivity - People who are hyperactive always seem to be in motion. They can't sit still; they may dash around or talk constantly. Sitting still through a lesson can be an impossible task for an ADHD child. They may roam around the room, squirm in their seats, wiggle their feet, touch everything, or noisily tap a pencil. They also may feel intensely restless.

Impulsivity - People who are overly impulsive seem unable to curb their immediate reactions or consider consequences of their behavior before they act. As a result, they may blurt out answers to questions or inappropriate comments, or run into the street without looking. Their impulsivity may make it hard for them to wait for things they want or to take their turn in games. They may grab a toy from another child or hit when they are upset. They may display immaturity in various social situations. 2

Up to 70% of children with ADHD will continue to have symptoms into adulthood. The main symptoms of ADHD in adults are trouble managing time and struggling with memory and disorganization. ADHD in adults is often referred to as the "hidden disorder" because its symptoms can often be confused with other problems with relationships, organization, mood disorders, substance abuse, employment or other personal difficulties. 2

They may be unable to sit still, plan ahead, finish tasks, or be fully aware of what's going on around them. To their family, classmates or coworkers, they seem to exist in a whirlwind of disorganized or frenzied activity. Unexpectedly--on some days and in some situations--they seem fine, often leading others to think the person with ADHD can actually control these behaviors. As a result, the disorder can mar the person's relationships with others in addition to disrupting their daily life, consuming energy, and diminishing self-esteem. 3

At present, ADHD is a diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common behaviors fall into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Inattention. People who are inattentive have a hard time keeping their mind on any one thing and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. They may give effortless, automatic attention to activities and things they enjoy. But focusing deliberate, conscious attention to organizing and completing a task or learning something new is difficult.

For example, Lisa found it agonizing to do homework. Often, she forgot to plan ahead by writing down the assignment or bringing home the right books. And when trying to work, every few minutes she found her mind drifting to something else. As a result, she rarely finished and her work was full of errors.

Hyperactivity. People who are hyperactive always seem to be in motion. They can't sit still. Like Mark, they may dash around or talk incessantly. Sitting still through a lesson can be an impossible task. Hyperactive children squirm in their seat or roam around the room. Or they might wiggle their feet, touch everything, or noisily tap their pencil. Hyperactive teens and adults may feel intensely restless. They may be fidgety or, like Henry, they may try to do several things at once, bouncing around from one activity to the next.

Impulsivity. People who are overly impulsive seem unable to curb their immediate reactions or think before they act. As a result, like Lisa, they may blurt out inappropriate comments. Or like Mark, they may run into the street without looking. Their impulsivity may make it hard for them to wait for things they want or to take their turn in games. They may grab a toy from another child or hit when they're upset.3

Seeing a child as "a chip off the old block" or "just like his dad" can blind parents to the need for help. Parents may find it hard to see their child's behavior as a problem when it so closely resembles their own. In fact, like Henry, many parents first recognize their own disorder only when their children are diagnosed.

In many cases, the teacher is the first to recognize that a child is hyperactive or inattentive and may consult with the school psychologist. Because teachers work with many children, they come to know how "average" children behave in learning situations that require attention and self control. However, teachers sometimes fail to notice the needs of children like Lisa who are quiet and cooperative. 3

More symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, underlying causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, associated conditions for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, risk factors for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:



Footnotes:
1. excerpt from NINDS Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Information Page: NINDS
2. excerpt from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): NWHIC
3. excerpt from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: NIMH

Last revision: July 1, 2003

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