Attention deficit disorder is a neurological condition defined by a consistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactive impulsivity that interferes with daily functioning in at least two settings — for example, at school and at home. It impacts children and adults, boys and girls, and people of all backgrounds.
ADHD symptoms often look different in children than they do in adults. But this is universal: If you recognize the following symptoms in yourself or your loved one, and they persistently disrupt life for at least 6 months, you may be dealing with ADHD. If you suspect that you have ADD or ADHD, contact your medical health-care professional for a diagnosis.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders checklist, at least six of the following ADHD symptoms often apply:
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
- Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
- Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
- Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
- Forgetful in daily activities.
At least six of the following signs of hyperactivity-impulsivity often apply:
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
- Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
- Runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
- Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
- Appears “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor.”
- Talks excessively.
- Blurts out the answers before the questions have been completed.
- Has difficulty awaiting turn.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).
>> Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7.
>> Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school [or work] and at home).
>> There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.
>> The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a pervasive developmental disorder, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorder, and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder).