Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a childhood disorder that affects as many as one out of 10 children in the United States. Even though it’s fairly common, many misconceptions still persist. So here are five important things you should know if you are a parent or a teacher of a child with ADHD.
1. The hallmark symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Most kids are inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive at times. But for a diagnosis of ADHD, these symptoms must interfere significantly in multiple places, such as at school and at home. This is a childhood disorder, meaning the symptoms must be present before adolescence. The symptoms can start in preschool, but most kids aren’t diagnosed until later in childhood. The symptoms may change over time, with hyperactivity and impulsivity being more pronounced in young children, while high-schoolers and young adults often display more difficulty with attention. Many children (perhaps as many as half) will outgrow their symptoms but others do not, so ADHD can affect a person into adulthood.
2. There are different types of ADHD: predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation; predominantly inattentive presentation; combined presentation.
Most children with ADHD have a combination of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity and would be diagnosed with ADHD-combined presentation. Other children who struggle most with hyperactivity and impulsivity would get the diagnosis of ADHD-hyperactive/impulsive presentation. A third group has predominantly problems with attention. While you often will hear these children described as ADD (attention deficit disorder), the correct term is ADHD-predominantly inattentive presentation. Girls tend to have inattentive symptoms more than boys.
– Ellen Braaten, PhD
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