CASA of Arizona

ADHD - pg. 3

The Signs and Symptoms of ADHD



Some common symptoms of ADHD include: often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes; often has difficulty sustaining attention to tasks; often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly; often fails to follow instructions carefully and completely; loses or forgets important things; feels restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming; runs or climbs excessively; often talks excessively; often blurts out answers before hearing the whole question; often has difficulty waiting for his or her turn.

In a busy environment, such as a classroom or a crowded store, ADHD children often become distracted and react by pulling items off the shelves, hitting people, or spinning out of control into erratic, silly, or strange behavior. ADHD children are often hypersensitive to sights, sounds, and touch and complain excessively about stimuli that seem low key or bland to others. Sleeping problems usually continue well after the point at which most small children sleep through the night.

Many experts now believe that an essential feature in ADHD is impaired working, or short-term, memory. But it should be kept in mind that the exact nature and severity of ADHD symptoms varies from person to person. For example, approximately one-third of people with ADHD do not have the hyperactive or overactive behavior component.

DSM-IV (1994) Criteria: Either 1 (Inattention) or 2 (Hyperactivity-Impulsivity)

Behavior has persisted for at least six months and to such a degree that it is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level. Must present with six or more of the following: 

  1. Inattention
    • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
    • Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
    • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
    • Often 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)
    • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
    • Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
    • Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
    • Is often forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity-Impulsivity

  • Hyperactivity

    • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
    • Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
    • Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate ( in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
    • Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
    • Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor"
    • Often talks excessively
  • Impulsivity

    • Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
    • Often has difficulty awaiting turn
    • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
NOTE: These criteria have been provided to help inform you of some of the symptoms of ADHD. This is not intended to be a diagnostic tool. If you believe you know someone who has an Attention Deficit Disorder, take them to a professional for a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan.

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