Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that is characterized by a persistent pattern of symptoms that interfere with social and occupational/academic functioning.

ADHD begins in childhood, and to meet criteria for the diagnosis onset of symptoms must be before the age of 12 years, and symptoms must be present in more than one setting (e.g., home and school).

There are 3 main sub-types of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), each with common core symptoms that help us identify which subtype a child may fall under.

1. Inattentive

Common presenting symptoms include:

-makes careless mistakes

-easily distracted


-difficulty with focus/concentration

-trouble with organization

-task avoidance

-loses things


2. Hyperactive

Common presenting symptoms include:



-“on the go”

-interrupts others

-blurts out answers during class

-talks excessively

-unable to wait their turn

-low frustration tolerance

-unable to sit still

-unable to remain seated when being seated is expected

3. Combined: Inattentive symptoms + hyperactive symptoms

Early intervention holds the key to positive outcomes for children who live with ADHD. The earlier these symptoms are identified, the earlier they can be addressed.

A comprehensive assessment including: medical, educational and psychological evaluation can help determine whether a child is truly struggling with ADHD or a condition that may mimic it.

There is a strong heritability component to ADHD, especially in first degree relatives, although specific genes that cause ADHD have not been identified. ADHD is more common in males than females at a ratio of 2:1, and females are more likely than males to present with inattentive symptoms than hyperactive symptoms.

There are many different treatments for ADHD both non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic. While there are risks to treating ADHD with medication due to potential side effects, there are also risks to not treating ADHD symptoms.

Untreated ADHD can lead to difficulty with interpersonal relationships, school failure, underachievement, poor self-esteem, and substance abuse. By early adulthood, untreated ADHD is correlated with an increased risk of suicide attempt, particularly if there is a comorbid mood disorder or substance abuse. Children with untreated ADHD are more likely to: underperform academically, experience peer rejection, face a higher likelihood of unemployment as adults, are at higher risk for substance abuse and incarceration. Auto accidents are also more frequent in drivers with ADHD compared to non-ADHD peers.

Raising a child with ADHD can be challenging, and knowing how to proceed with evaluation and treatment can be overwhelming. Know that help is available. Below are helpful resources I regularly recommend to patients and families I see in my office.



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

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