As the name suggests, ADHD is characterised by abnormal levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour. According to the US Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, the symptoms must appear before the age of seven and must continue for at least six months for a positive diagnosis to be made. In addition, they must significantly interfere with the child’s life in at least two of the following areas: school, playground, home, community and social settings.
Since many other life situations and medical conditions can resemble the symptoms of ADHD, a proper diagnosis can only be made after a thorough examination by a qualified medical professional.
Depending on the predominance of certain symptoms, ADHD is divided into 3 distinct subtypes:
- the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type,
- the predominantly inattentive type (sometimes referred to as attention deficit disorder or ADD), and
- the combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive type.
Symptoms for the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD include:
- being easily distracted, forgetful, missing details, making careless mistakes and frequently switching activities;
- having difficulty focusing and becoming bored quickly;
- having difficulty completing tasks and learning new things;
- daydreaming and getting confused easily;
- having difficulty with organisation and following instructions;
- not appearing to listen when being spoken to directly.
Symptoms for the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD include:
- fidgeting with hands and feet;
- talking incessantly;
- having difficulty sitting still and remaining seated;
- constantly being in motion: running, climbing, jumping, etc.;
- being very impatient and having difficulty doing quiet tasks and activities;
- blurting out inappropriate comments and showing emotions without constraint;
- often interrupting and intruding on others.
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