Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. It is normal for all children to be inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive sometimes, but for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often.  These 3 behaviors are not always present together in the diagnosis of ADHD; therefore there are 3 subtypes of ADHD: 

  • Combined ADHD- symptoms of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity

  • Inattentive ADHD- impaired attention and concentration

  • Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD- hyperactivity without inattentiveness

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5)1, is used by mental health professionals to help diagnose ADHD.  This diagnostic standard helps ensure that people are appropriately diagnosed and treated for ADHD.

The following list of symptoms is not all inclusive, but represents key red flags which may need attention if several symptoms  have been co-occurring and persistent  according to the DSM V, by the age of 12 for children and present in more than one setting over several months.  It should be noted that the DSM V criteria for adolescents and adults is different than children. 

  • Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli , which frequently interrupts ongoing tasks
  • Difficulty getting started on mundane tasks or tasks that are not of interest to the child
  • Has trouble completing tasks that require sustained attention or shifts from an uncompleted task to another
  • Often loses items necessary to complete tasks (such as a pencil bag, paper, eye glasses, etc)
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
  • Constantly in some sort of motion, whether physical or verbally
  • Has difficulty restraining emotions
  • Has difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turn in games or in lines
  • Often interrupts conversations or others' activities

A full list of symptoms may be found at the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health)