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Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.
Deciding if a child has ADHD is a several-step process. This page gives you an overview of how ADHD is diagnosed. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, and many other problems, like sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and certain types of learning disabilities, can have similar symptoms.
If you are concerned about whether a child might have ADHD, the first step is to talk with a healthcare professional to find out if the symptoms fit the diagnosis. The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, like a pediatrician.
Healthcare professionals use the guidelines in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5)1, to help diagnose ADHD. This diagnostic standard helps ensure that people are appropriately diagnosed and treated for ADHD. Using the same standard across communities can also help determine how many children have ADHD, and how public health is impacted by this condition.
People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
Based on the types of symptoms, three kinds (presentations) of ADHD can occur:
Combined Presentation: if enough symptoms of both criteria inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity were present for the past 6 months
Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: if enough symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: if enough symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not inattention were present for the past six months.
Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.
Behavior Therapy: The goals of behavior therapy are to learn or strengthen positive behaviors and eliminate unwanted or problem behaviors. Behavior therapy can include behavior therapy training for parents, behavior therapy with children, or a combination. Teachers can also use behavior therapy to help reduce problem behaviors in the classroom.
Medication: Stimulants are the best-known and most widely used ADHD medications. Between 70-80 percent of children with ADHD have fewer ADHD symptoms when they take these fast-acting medications.
Nonstimulants were approved for treating ADHD in 2003. Nonstimulants do not work as quickly as stimulants, but they can last up to 24 hours.
Medications can affect children differently. One child may respond well to one medication, but not another. The doctor may need to try different medications and doses, so it is important for parents to work with their child’s doctor to find the medication that works best for their child.
The percent of children estimated to have ADHD has changed over time and can vary by how it is measured. Recent surveys of parents show that approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have ever been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that 5% of children have ADHD1. However, other studies in the US have estimated higher rates in community samples.