Approximately 11% of U.S. children ages 4 to 17 are diagnosed with ADHD, and boys are diagnosed with ADHD at more than twice the rate of girls.
What are the different types of ADHD?
ADHD can be categorized into three general types: hyperactive, inattentive or combined (in which a child experiences both symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention). Everyone with ADHD experiences different combinations of symptoms. Some are more hyperactive or impulsive, while others are more inattentive or easily distracted. It is important to note that not everyone with ADHD will experience all of the symptoms.
Learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for ADHD on choc.org.
What are the symptoms of hyperactive ADHD?
The following ADHD behaviors are seen in young children, so it’s important to look for these symptoms to make an early diagnosis.
- They are always on the move, can rarely sit still and are fidgety.
- They are a chatterbox! They may talk excessively and will have great difficulty when needing to stop talking. In this case, hyperverbality is represented by hyperactivity.
- The child leaves their seat in the classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected.
- They run about or climb excessively in situations where it is inappropriate.
- They have difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
- They appear “on the go” or act as if “driven by a motor.”
- They blurt out the answers before the questions have been completed.
- They have difficulty awaiting their turn.
- They interrupt or intrude on others during conversations or games.
What are the symptoms of inattentive ADHD?
The inattentive type of ADHD can be subtle or more profound. Again, a child or teen must exhibit at least six of these behaviors to qualify for an ADHD diagnosis.
- They fail to give close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities.
- They have difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
- They do not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- They do not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace. However, this is not attributed to oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or failure to understand instructions.
- They appear to be daydreaming a lot, and they don’t respond quickly when prompted or may seem like they are ignoring you.
- They have difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
- They may avoid, dislike or be reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental efforts, such as schoolwork or homework.
- They may lose things that are necessary for tasks or activities like toys, school assignments, pencils, books or tools.
- They are constantly forgetful and may forget instructions soon after being told.
- They may be easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
- They may be forgetful in daily activities.
What are the symptoms of combined hyperactive and inattentive ADHD?
The combined type is when a child is both hyperactive and inattentive. This type of ADHD may have a larger impact on a child’s functioning and may be more challenging to manage. For a combined-type diagnosis, a child must have at least six symptoms from each sub type.
There are also a few other indicators of ADHD that may be seen from an outside perspective in a clinical or school setting.
- Frequent or repeated trips to the emergency department due to injuries or broken bones when playing may be indicators that a child or teen is impulsive and risk seeking. They may be more willing to give dangerous activities a try.
- At school, a child or teen may have disciplinary referrals for not following rules or directions; they may be impatient and cut in line; or they act a bit more immature and emotionally reactive. They may also get in trouble for hitting others or saying things that few other kids might say — they may not regulate emotions as well as other kids their age.
Kids and ADHD: What Parents Should Know
If your child expresses thoughts of wanting to harm themselves or others, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest Emergency Department.
MHSA Suicide Prevention Line:
(877) 7CRISIS or (877) 727-4747
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis Text Line:
Text “HOME” to 741741
Find a mental health provider
Check your insurance website or the back of your insurance card.
Explore Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” tool.
Call CalOptima Behavioral Health (Orange County, CA).
National Institute of Mental Health
ADHD Statistics & Information
ADHD in Children and Teens: What You Need to Know
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – ADHD Resource Center