What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is an academic and behavioral disorder, primarily of children, that involves problems in 3 basic areas:
  • hyperactivity
  • problems controlling impulses
  • problems with attention and concentration
ADHD is defined as a continuing pattern of least 6 possible symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulse control that meets the following conditions:
  • last at least 6 months
  • symptoms must have started before age 7
  • symptoms must be present and cause significant problems in at least two settings (e.g. school, home, work)
    Signs of hyperactivity include: [1]
  • feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming
  • running, climbing, or leaving a seat, in situations where sitting or quiet behavior is expected
    Signs of impulsivity are: [1]
  • blurting out answers before hearing the whole question
  • having difficulty waiting in line or for a turn
    Signs of inattention include: [1]
  • becoming easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds
  • failing to pay attention to details and making careless mistakes
  • rarely following instructions carefully and completely
  • losing or forgetting things like toys, or pencils, books, and tools needed for a task
An estimated 5-10% of school age children in the U.S. have ADHD. [33] It is much more common in boys than girls. It appears that since 1990, the number of children treated with medication for ADHD has increased almost three fold. [34] It is not clear whether this means that ADHD is increasing or whether doctors are becoming more skilled in identifying the disorder.