Ask the Experts

ADHD or Just Hyperactive?

Hyperactivity is a hallmark symptom of ADHD, but it’s not the only symptom. If your child can’t sit still — but she can focus, pay attention, manage time, and organize her thoughts — then the diagnosis may not be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Q: “My six-year-old was diagnosed with ADHD, but I’m not sure she has all the traits. She can pay attention and gets very good grades – she just cannot sit still in class. Is there such a thing as just ‘hyperactivity disorder’?”

A: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes three types of ADHD: primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive, and combined type. ADHD cannot be the diagnosis if the only behavior is hyperactivity, especially if the hyperactivity occurs during specific situations.

If she’s only hyperactive during class, this might be due to anxiety, or perhaps she’s not being challenged by the work and gets bored. I’d discuss your concern with the doctor, and look for other causes of the hyperactivity.

Updated on June 17, 2019

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