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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Identifying Adhd

The primary tool for identifying the symptoms of ADHD is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. This diagnostic manual specifies three groups of behaviors that are characteristic of ADHD. Children need only demonstrate behaviors in any one group to be diagnosed with ADHD. Children in the first group show signs of being consistently inattentive. Children in the second group will show hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. The third group of children exhibit a combination of behaviors from both groups (inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness).

According to the diagnostic manual, an inattentive type of ADHD child is identified when six or more of the following symptoms have persisted for at least six months to a degree that significant impairments in a child's daily activities are noted. These symptoms must be seen in two or more environments, such as at home, at school, or in social settings. Symptoms include:

  • failure to pay close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork;
  • difficulty sustaining attention to tasks or play activities;
  • failure to listen when spoken to directly;
  • failure to follow through on instructions or complete schoolwork, chores, or duties;
  • difficulty organizing tasks and activities;
  • avoidance, dislike, or reluctance to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort;
  • frequent loss of things necessary for tasks or activities;
  • easy distraction by outside stimuli; and
  • forgetfulness in daily activities.

The diagnostic manual identifies the hyperactive/impulsive ADHD child when six or more of the following symptoms have persisted for at least six months to a degree that significant impairment in a child's daily activities are noted. These symptoms must also be seen in two or more environments, such as at home, at school, or in social settings. Symptoms include:

  • fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in seat;
  • leaving seat in classroom or in other situations where remaining in seat is expected;
  • running about or climbing excessively;
  • having difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly;
  • often "on the go" or acting as if "driven by a motor";
  • talking excessively;
  • blurting out answers;
  • having difficulty waiting turn; and
  • interrupting or intruding on others.

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 1Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Identifying Adhd, Possible Causes Of Adhd, How Is Adhd Diagnosed?, Recommended Treatment For Adhd