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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Children exercising in playground
  • Date published:

  • Author: alexmantle

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people in a variety of ways.

Common symptoms include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Many people with ADHD have problems associated with each of these behaviours.

Others may have problems solely with inattentiveness. This form of ADHD exclusively affecting inattentiveness is also referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

ADHD is usually noticeable by the age of six. Symptoms should be consistent in all environments, such as inattentiveness being present both at home and at school.

Many children will go through restless or inattentive phases, this is normal and does not always mean they have ADHD.

Some common symptoms of inattentiveness

  • having a short attention span, being easily distracted or regularly seem to be daydreaming
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that they feel are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organising tasks

Some common symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger

Treatment and support

If you’re concerned about your child’s behaviour, you can speak to your child’s teacher, their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), a school nurse or a GP.

A GP cannot diagnose ADHD, but they can refer your child to a specialist, such as a community paediatrician, for further assessment.

ADHD doesn’t have a cure, but the condition can be managed with the right educational and behavioural support. Medicine can be prescribed if necessary; you will need to talk about this option with your child’s paediatrician who will assess whether this is will be beneficial.

When looking after a child with ADHD, you might find it difficult from time to time. It’s important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour. Common day to day challenges include:

  • being organised
  • listening to and following instructions
  • getting ready for school on time

Some children with ADHD may also struggle with underachievement at school, poor social interaction and disciplinary problems.

Support and advice articles for parents are available to read at: and

It is common for symptoms of ADHD to change into teenage years and through into adulthood, although symptoms are often more subtle during adulthood.