Rothman Center for Pediatric Neuropsychiatry

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood disorder characterized by difficulties maintaining focus, controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). Although many children experience some of these difficulties with attention and over-activity, these symptoms are much more severe and impairing in children with ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD can appear as early as 3 years of age, and can cause significant challenges both in the home and school setting.

What are the causes of this condition?

ADHD is caused by multiple factors including genetic and environmental influences. Variations in genes can influence the development of ADHD. Brain injury can also cause the onset of ADHD, but is a rare occurrence.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms

Three behaviors used to categorize the symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Inattention refers to being easily distracted or having issues focusing on one task or item. Inattention can cause problems with focusing on planning and completing tasks, following instructions, and with processing information. Hyperactivity is indicated by being overly physically active, being fidgety, and talking or making noises a lot. Impulsivity is shown by an inability to be patient for long periods of time, acting without contemplating consequences, expressing emotions in inappropriate ways or times.

Hyperactivity-Impulsivity

  • Fidgeting with hands or feet
  • Moving around when expected to stay put
  • Often unable to play quietly or talks an exaggerated amount
  • Has trouble waiting for their turn
  • Interrupts others

Inattentive

  • Doesn’t pay close attention or makes careless mistakes
  • Has trouble maintaining attention on task for long periods of time unless they are enjoyable
  • Does not appear to be listening when spoken to directly
  • Trouble planning tasks
  • Often loses things
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetful during daily activities

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Treatment

  • Evaluation by Physician or Nurse Practitioner