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ADHD Symptoms in Children

Updated on March 12, 2011

The symptoms of ADD and ADHD are the same in both adults and children. However, because of age differences and variations in stages of development, symptoms often present themselves differently in younger people. Variations in severity of these types of developmental disorders can also impact the way that symptoms present themselves and how they are perceived by others. In children, one of the most obvious symptoms of ADHD is the inability to concentrate. These children have difficulty paying attention in class, moreso than their peers. Careless mistakes on school assignments and homework can often be a sign of ADHD as well, especially as children begin to get older.

People with ADHD are easily distracted and often forgetful. In school, children with ADHD may frequently either lose or forget items like pencils, needed textbooks, or assignments. At home, children with attention deficit disorders may lose toys, clothing items, or reading glasses. Tasks that require sustained focus, attention, or mental effort are often avoided by children with ADHD, simply because of the difficulty in concentration. Organizing tasks or activities is particularly difficult for people with ADHD or ADD, and schedules that involve rigid routines are favored. 

A child or adult with ADHD may appear as if they are not listening, even when spoken to directly. Often, a person with ADHD or ADD may hear what another person is saying, but simply refuses to make eye contact. Other times, a child or adult with attention deficit disorder, may be absorbed in something else entirely. Verbal instructions are often a waste of time for someone with ADHD because of this. A child who struggles with ADD may leave school work, homework, or chores unfinished.

A short attention span is the hallmark symptom of anyone with attention deficit problems, and is the reason why these disorders are named as such. Lengthy talks, lectures, tasks, or activities tend to make someone with ADHD very fidgety. Children with ADD may become disruptive in class or during events that require extended periods of concentration.

Hyperactive and impulsive behaviors are also a part of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In children, the hyperactivity is sometimes more obvious than in adults. Also, behavior problems in boys with ADHD can be different from those in girls with the same disorder. Boys with attention deficit disorder may be more hyperactive, while girls are more inattentive. A girl with ADD may appear “spacey,” or as a “daydreamer.” 


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