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ADHD/ADD symptoms are divided into two groups: symptoms of inattention and symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity. To avoid diagnosing individuals who show only isolated difficulties, at least 6 inattentive symptoms and/or 6 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms must be present to possibly qualify for an ADHD/ADD diagnosis. In addition, these symptoms must have been present for at least 6 months to a degree that is considered inappropriate for the individual’s age.
Symptoms of Inattention:
People with ADD or ADHD often fail to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities. They also have difficulty listening when spoken to directly or can’t sustain attention in tasks or play activities. Often times, people with ADD/ADHD don’t follow through on instructions and fails to finish school work, chores, or duties in the work place. They will often lose things necessary for tasks or activities and will avoid engaging in tasks that require sustained mental effort. They often have difficulty organizing tasks/activities and are easily distracted by extraneous stimuli. Overall, they are very forgetful in daily activities.
Symptoms of Hyperactivity/Impulsivity:
People with ADD or ADHD often squirm in their seat or fidget with their hands. Students will often leave their seat in classroom or in other situations in which seating is expected. They are often “on the go” or acts if they are “driven by a motor.” People with ADD or ADHD also have difficulty waiting for their turn and will interrupt or intrude on others.
As stated earlier, at least 6 inattentive symptoms and/or 6 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms must be present to possibly qualify for an ADHD/ADD diagnosis. Additionally, some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment need to have been present before the child was 7.
For example, it is not uncommon for children with inattentive symptoms, but not the hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, to do well in the early grades when the academic demands are not very rigorous. This is especially likely for a smart child who catches on regardless of not attending very well. However, in later grades, when the work becomes more demanding, the child’s problems with attention may begin to create real problems. Thus, although it may appear that the child’s problems with attention emerged “suddenly”, a careful investigation often reveals the presence of attentional difficulties earlier on.
If there is truly is no indication of ADD/ADHD symptoms, even at a reduced level, then ADHD would not be an appropriate diagnosis. Instead, it is likely that some other disorder such as an anxiety or mood disorder is responsible for the symptoms.