Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a condition that can affect learning and one's ability to mingle with others. As the name indicates, a lack of attention and hyperactivity are the major symptoms, which would be seen at a level that is inconsistent with the growth and developmental stage of a person. When compared to other children of the same age, a child with this disorder would be more inattentive and hyperactive. Symptoms of ADHD affect their functioning at home, work, school and other social environments.
There are three major categories of symptoms in ADHD:
- Short attention span
The intensity and manifestation of these symptoms may differ depending on the individual. Some children may be just inattentive but not hyperactive or impulsive in nature. In some children, ADHD may cause both hyperactivity and impulsivity, while in some others all three symptoms may be present.
- Short attention span – Children and adults with ADHD find it difficult to focus on one thing for a long time and get bored with the activity in hand. They may end up handing over messy and careless work. They are easily distracted and spend time on irrelevant things. It is hard for them to focus on some task that requires concentration and they tend to jump from one activity to another without completing either of them. Disorganized work is yet another manifestation of inattention. Restlessness, procrastination, and forgetfulness are also seen in people with ADHD due to their inability to concentrate.
- Hyperactivity – This symptom often becomes apparent before the age of seven, and is one of the most obvious symptoms of ADHD. They are always on the move and children with this disorder find it difficult to sit in one place, as in a class room, and pay attention. They often get up from their seat and walk around. Children may find it difficult to engage in quiet or sedentary activities and games. They also have the tendency to talk inappropriately and excessively.
- Impulsivity –Inability to think and act is the most apparent manifestation of impulsivity. Impatience, inappropriate comments and answers, and inability to wait for their turn are all impulsive actions. People with ADHD tend to interrupt and intrude others and this may often cause problems during work and in social environment. Children may find it difficult to make friends and maintain friendship.
Most of the above mentioned symptoms may be seen in a normal child or a youngster at one time or other. But to be diagnosed with ADHD, the child must show a combination of the symptoms consistently in different situations, including school and home, for more than five to six months. In children the symptoms may become worse with increased demands during different situations. Other conditions like anxiety, depression, defiant disorder and conduct disorder are also seen associated with ADHD.