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ADHD: What you need to know

Woman smiling at young boy both sat at a table
  • Date published:

  • Author: leighanjohnson

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (known as ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects people’s concentration, activity levels and impulsivity.

About 1 in 20 people have ADHD and this is often spotted in children before they turn 12.  Sometimes it is possible to be diagnosed in later life.  ADHD is pervasive – this mean that the symptoms will appear at both school and home and in other settings. ADHD often runs in families and is not linked to intelligence.


Types of ADHD

ADHD can be split into two types:

  • Inattentive (trouble concentrating and focussing)
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness (as if driven by a motor)

It is possible to have one type or a combination of the two types.

Symptoms of ADHD

Typical symptoms of inattentive ADHD include:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Makes careless mistakes in school work
  • Doesn’t seem to listen or take in instructions
  • Forgets or loses things regularly


Typical symptoms of hyperactive and impulsive ADHD include:

  • Being unable to sit still or constantly fidgeting
  • Interrupting conversations or excessive talking
  • Little sense of danger or excessive risk taking
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks especially tedious or long tasks.

It is important to note that all children are different and develop at different rates. There will be some children that are more active, less organised and more inattentive than others, however when this has a significant impact on day-to-day functioning and achievements, it may indicate something beyond what we would typically see in a child’s development. It is useful to consider that other conditions including anxiety, depression or experience of trauma can have similar symptoms as ADHD.

Diagnosis and treatment

There is no one test for ADHD.  A specialist clinician will need to gather lots of information from you, your child and their school and possibly others to help them move towards a diagnostic outcome.  There may also need to take a QB test, a physical examination and a discussion around medical history. To be diagnosed, children need to exhibit at least 6 of the symptoms of ADHD for at least 6 months and these symptoms make their lives considerably more difficult either on a social, academic or occupational level.

Treatment can involve offering parental support training, therapy and medication or a combination of these depending on the needs of the child.

Getting support

If you think your child might have ADHD, speak to your school who might be able to provide extra support.  If you still think your child needs to be referred for an assessment of ADHD, you can talk to your GP.   Your GP will require you and your child’s school to complete some questionnaires  found here in order to progress the referral.

Other charities such as ADHD Solutions can also offer help and advice.

Useful links


ADHD Foundation