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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming increasingly recognized in both adolescents and adults. It was formerly thought that a person would tend to “grow out of” ADHD symptoms after leaving childhood. It is now known that many individuals with ADHD do not grow out of many of the symptoms. Even though we all tend to slow down as we age, problems with attention, organization, and focus can continue well on into adulthood—causing significant problems at home, work, or school.
Hyperactivity symptoms are often more prominent in young children. The child may:
- Fidget or squirm in his (or her) seat
- Show difficulty remaining seated when remaining in seat is expected
- Run about or climb when not appropriate
- Have trouble playing quietly
- Seem often “on the go” or may act as if “driven by a motor”
- Talk excessively
Young children, adolescents, and adults may show inattentive symptoms. He (she) may:
- Frequently make careless mistakes in school or work
- Have difficulty paying attention to details
- Be easily distracted from the task at hand
- Have problems with sustaining attention
- Seem not to listen, even when spoken to directly
- Not finish assignments or tasks, particularly those that require concentration
- Procrastinate or void tasks requiring sustained attention
- Be disorganized in work habits or forgetful
- Fail to complete tasks (e.g., homework or chores)
Also possible are symptoms of impulsivity. There may be:
- Blurting out answers before the question is finished
- Trouble waiting one’s turn
- Interruption or intrusion into conversation of others
ADHD can occur with all of the above symptoms groups present, or may show one category to be particularly prominent.
For the diagnosis of ADHD to be made, there must be evidence of at least some of the symptoms prior to the age of 7, the symptoms must have persisted for at least 6 months, and the symptoms must be severe enough to have caused impairment in at least two settings (work, school, home, etc.).
Professional evaluation is important to confirm the diagnosis, as well as to screen for conditions that can mimic the symptoms of ADHD. Treatment may involve medications and also behavioral therapies to help a person learn strategies for managing his (or her) symptoms.