A key element to an ADHD diagnosis is that symptoms of ADHD must significantly impair adaptive functioning in both home and school environments.
Although symptoms of hyperactivity can begin to be present in preschoolers and are almost always apparent by the age of 7, ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. ADHD can progress into adulthood, be developed later in life or go undiagnosed until adulthood.
The three categories of symptoms of ADHD are:
- Inattention—Short attention span for age, difficulty listening to others, difficulty attending to details, easily distracted, forgetfulness, poor study and organizational skills for age
- Impulsivity—Interrupts others, difficulty waiting turn in school or social games, takes frequent risks—often without thinking before acting
- Hyperactivity—Fidgets, seems to be in constant motion, difficulty remaining in his or her seat even when it is expected, talks excessively, difficulty engaging in quiet activities, loses or forgets things often, inability to stay on task
A detailed history of the child’s behavior from parents and teachers, observations of the child’s behavior and psychoeducational testing contribute to the diagnosis of ADHD.
Many of the symptoms may occur in individuals who do not have ADHD, resembling other medical conditions or behavior problems. Always consult your primary care provider for a diagnosis.