CKSS Special Education: ADHD

ADHD Explained

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common chronic disorders in children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes some combination of problems, such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Children with ADHD may also struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and poor performance in school.

Most children are, at times, inattentive, distractible, impulsive or highly active. A child may be diagnosed with ADHD when such behaviors happen more frequently and are more severe than for children of the same age or developmental level. An ADHD diagnosis might also result if the behaviors persist over time and negatively impacts a child’s family, social and school life. Although aggression is not specifically a symptom of ADHD, children who behave aggressively are often diagnosed with ADHD.

There are different rates of ADHD among children, ranging from one percent to 13 percent, and ADHD is three to four times more common in boys than girls.

Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD used to be called attention-deficit disorder (ADD). However, the term ADHD is now preferred because it describes both primary aspects of the condition: inattention and hyperactive-impulsive disorder.

The symptoms of ADHD fall into two main groups: inattentive behaviors, and hyper¬active and impulsive behaviors. ADHD symptoms become more apparent during activities that require focused mental effort. In order to be diagnosed, children must show symptoms before age 7, displaying six or more inattentive and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors at home or at school.

Inattentive Behaviours

  • Often doesn’t pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities

  • Often has trouble staying focused on work or activities

  • Often doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly

  • Frequently has difficulty following through on instructions and does not finish tasks

  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks

  • Usually avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort such as schoolwork or homework

  • Often loses needed items

  • Often easily distracted

  • Often forgetful

Hyperactive Behaviours

  • Often fidgets and squirms

  • Often leaves seat when required to sit still

  • Frequently runs or climbs excessively when inappropriate (or, for adolescents, constantly feels restless)

  • Often talks excessively

  • Usually has difficulty playing quietly

  • Is constantly in motion

Impulsive Behaviours

  • Usually has difficulty waiting for a turn

  • Regularly blurts out answers before questions have been completely asked

  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or games"

(Source: Adopt Ontario)