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ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Symptoms of ADHD

Margaret Austin, Ph.D., Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D., and Laura Burgdorf, Ph.D.

Anxiety Attack At the Castleimage by Cameron Parkins (lic)The general symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Failure to pay attention or a failure to retain learned information
  • Fidgeting or restless behavior
  • Excessive activity or talking
  • The appearance of being being physically driven or compelled to constantly move
  • Inability to sit quietly, even when motivated to do so
  • Engaging in activity without thinking before hand
  • Constantly interrupting or changing the subject
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Difficulty sustaining focused attention
  • Distractibility
  • Forgetfulness or absentmindedness
  • Continual impatience
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • When focused attention is required, it is experienced as unpleasant
  • Frequent shifts from one activity to another
  • Careless or messy approach to assignments or tasks
  • Failure to complete activities
  • Difficulty organizing or prioritizing activities or possessions

ADHD is Not:

  • An Attitude Problem - The difficulties associated with ADHD are not due to defiance or getting into a battle about control. Nor are they a sign of laziness or irresponsibility. The behaviors associated with ADHD are chronic and part of the disorder. With help, an individual can learn to manage these behaviors.
  • A Personality Disorder - ADHD is a neurological disorder that often co-exists with other disorders, including personality disorders.
  • An Absolute Problem - The impact of the issues surrounding ADHD vary in degree from person to person and are influenced by the environment. Individuals can learn a range of skills to manage their symptoms and their performance can improve with increased stimulation and behavior-specific reinforcement (i.e., reward) systems (described later).
  • A Lack of Intelligence - Often, individuals with ADHD are highly intelligent and creative.

ADHD is:

A non-curable neurological disorder that creates information processing challenges among those individuals affected by it. In other words, those with ADHD think differently and, at times, less clearly than other people without ADHD. These thought difficulties often lead people to respond differently to events that occur. For example, when a new child enters an ongoing playgroup, most children will notice the newcomer. However, children with ADHD might not be aware that the peer is new to the group, thinking instead that they didn't notice the peer before (like so many other people and things that suddenly appear in their environment).

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