Looking at Attention Issues: What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

at Attention Issues: What is Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?


Today’s post is part 2 of the Looking at
Attention Issues series:

1: Activities
to Promote Attention

2: What is Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder?

3: Getting Help


Most of today’s information is from the
website PubMed Health  which is produced by the National Center for
Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Library of Medicine at
the National Institutes of Health.


What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

ADHD is a problem with inattentiveness,
over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination. For these problems to be
diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a child’s age and


The symptoms of ADHD fall into three groups:

  • Lack
    of attention (inattentiveness)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsive
    behavior (impulsivity)

Inattentive symptoms

1. Fails to give close attention to details
or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork

2. Has difficulty keeping attention during
tasks or play

3. Does not seem to listen when spoken to

4. Does not follow through on instructions
and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace

5. Has difficulty organizing tasks and

6. Avoids or dislikes tasks that require
sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork)

7. Often loses toys, assignments, pencils,
books, or tools needed for tasks or activities

8. Is easily distracted

9. Is often forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactivity symptoms:

1. Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in

2. Leaves seat when remaining seated is

3. Runs about or climbs in inappropriate

4. Has difficulty playing quietly

5. Is often “on the go,” acts as
if “driven by a motor,” talks excessively

Impulsivity symptoms:

1. Blurts out answers before questions have
been completed

2. Has difficulty awaiting turn

3. Interrupts or intrudes on others (butts
into conversations or games)


and tests

Too often, children are incorrectly labeled
with ADHD. On the other hand, many children who do have ADHD remain
undiagnosed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued guidelines to bring more clarity to
this issue.

The diagnosis for ADHD is based on very
specific symptoms, which must be present in more than one setting.

  • Children
    should have at least 6 attention symptoms or 6 hyperactivity/impulsivity
    symptoms, with some symptoms present before age 7.
  • The
    symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, seen in two or more
    settings, and not caused by another problem.
  • The
    symptoms must be severe enough to cause significant difficulties in many
    settings, including home, school, and in relationships with peers.

The child should have an evaluation by a
doctor if ADHD is suspected. Evaluation may include:

  • Parent
    and teacher questionnaires (for example, Connors, Burks)
  • Psychological
    evaluation of the child AND family, including IQ testing and psychological
  • Complete
    developmental, mental, nutritional, physical, and psycho-social examination


ADHD is a big topic of conversation in
schools. Teachers are often the first ones to note behaviors that may be
symptoms of ADHD. But the important word in that statement is may. If a
teacher has concerns about a student’s attention, she is right to speak of her
concerns with the student’s parents. But teachers do not diagnose ADHD.
Diagnosis is a medical issue.


Do you have questions you’d like to see
covered? Experiences to share? Please write them in the Comments box. Thanks.


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