Signs of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


Determining if your child has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) involves several steps, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you are concerned your child might have ADHD, you should speak with your healthcare provider and a diagnosis can be made by a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, like a pediatrician.

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The CDC notes, "People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development." The child (up to age 16) would have 6 or more the below symptoms (present for up to 6 months) for either inattention or hyperactivity and impulsivity.


  • Frequently fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
  • Trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Problems with follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace.
  • Trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do or complete tasks that require mental effort over periods of time.
  • Frequently loses things necessary for tasks and activities.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Frequently forgetful in daily activities.

Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

  • Fidgeting with or tapping hands or feet, or squirming in a seat.
  • Leaving seat in situations when remaining seated is expected or required
  • Running about or climbing in situations where it is not appropriate.
  • Being unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • The child acts as though they are “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
  • Talking excessively.
  • Blurting out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • Trouble waiting for their turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others.

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The CDC also says the following conditions must be met:

  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
  • Several symptoms are present in two or more settings, (such as at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
  • There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
  • The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder). The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

More information about diagnosis and treatment can be found at The National Resource Center on ADHD.

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