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ADHD - Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder 


ADHD affects children and teens and can continue into adulthood. It is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses. Or they may have trouble paying attention.


ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder 


ADD is a term used for people who have excessive difficulties with concentration without the presence of other ADHD symptoms such as excessive impulsiveness or hyperactivity.  Some children with ADD are also impulsive but have never been hyperactive.

Children and young people with ADHD often have lots of energy and difficulty concentrating. They might also find it hard to control what they say or do. For example, they might speak without thinking first, or find that they do things on impulse.


About one in three people diagnosed with ADHD as a child will grow out of the condition and not require any treatment as adults. Those who receive specialist treatment tailored to their needs often see the benefits in their learning, friendships, employability and life skills as they understand how best to cope and adapt. 


ADHD diagnosis requires a specialist (child psychiatrist or paediatrician) assessment. This involves observing your child, obtaining reports of their behaviour at home and at school and sometimes using computerised tests. If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, these observations then inform a Learning plan or IDP, that aims to ensure your child can flourish and achieve their full potential.


Let's Talk

This animation discusses what it means to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It was co-produced by children with ADHD, their families and carers, and health professionals in the field. It is based on research evidence as well as ideas from children and individuals with lived experienced of ADHD.



Symptoms of ADHD in Children


ADHD in children has three main symptom groups – hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.


To be diagnosed with ADHD a child does not have to have all three symptoms.

Some children with attention deficit disorder only manifest two symptoms, or even one. This means that quiet children who always seem lost in their thoughts can have ADHD just as much as the hyperactive child who runs heedlessly into the street or breaks all their toys before they realise what they are doing.


Hyperactivity is always being active. This would see a child:

  • always on the move
  • fidgeting non stop if asked to sit still
  • seeming to have a battery that never runs out
  • finding relaxing difficult, no 'off' switch
  • having illogic and quick changes in mood.


Impulsivity is acting without thinking of consequences and speaking without filters. This sees a child:

  • saying whatever they think
  • blurting out mean comments to others
  • taking toys that don't belong to them
  • interrupting others
  • not understanding the concept of personal space
  • breaking and smashing things
  • doing thoughtless things like touching a hot stove
  • being overreactive or volatile
  • upsetting or scaring other children.


Inattention is difficulties maintaining attention. This would see a child:

  • sitting at her desk at school staring out the window
  • being seen as a 'daydreamer'
  • not listening well when spoken to
  • having difficulty following directions
  • unable to finish things
  • often forgetting their homework
  • losing their possessions
  • upsetting other children due to an inability to grasp rules or protocol.

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