ADHD Symptom Checklists

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ADHD Symptoms

ADHD is sometimes hard to recognize, especially when kids aren't hyperactive.
Do you know how to recognize the symptoms of ADHD?. Photo by Digital Vision/Getty Images

ADHD symptoms are typically grouped into two major categories, including symptoms for children who:

  • have trouble paying attention (inattention) and get easily distracted
  • are hyperactive or "on the go" (hyperactivity) and are impulsive or doing things without really thinking about them (impulsivity)

Some children just have one type of ADHD symptom; for example, children with ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type simply have trouble paying attention and get distracted, but they aren't hyperactive or impulsive. Other children can just have ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive - Impulsive Type, while some have ADHD, Combined Type if they have all of the major ADHD symptoms.

In addition to simply having most of these symptoms most or all of the time, to be diagnosed with ADHD, the symptoms should have been present for at least six months, have begun before your child was 12 years old (this was recently raised from age 7), and they should be present and causing an impairment in more than one setting, for example both at home and at school.

If your child only has problems at school or only in one subject, then you might look to see if he could have a learning disorder, such as dyscalculia or dysgraphia, another learning disability or dyslexia.

Looking for another learning problem can also be a good idea if your child, already being treated for ADHD, simply isn't doing well in school -- since many children have both ADHD and a learning disability or dyslexia.

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ADHD Symptoms of Inattention

A boy getting distracted at school.
Does your child get easily distracted when trying to do his school work?. Photo by Getty Images

Symptoms of inattention that might be signs of ADHD include a child who:

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as homework)
  • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
  • Is easily distracted by outside stimuli
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

Does your child have at least six of these ADHD symptoms of inattention often or very often?

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ADHD Symptoms of Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

A boy on the go, overwhelming his parents.
Boys will be boys, but they shouldn't be running always be on the go as they get older... Photo by John Lund/Tom Penpark/Getty Images

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity that might be signs of ADHD include a child who:

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in his seat
  • Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
  • Runs about or climbs too much in situations in which it is inappropriate
  • Has difficulty playing quietly Is 'on the go' or acts as if 'driven by a motor'
  • Talks too much
  • Burts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Has difficulty waiting his or her turn
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others (such as butting into conversations or games)

Does your child have at least six of these ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity often or very often?

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Does Your Child Have ADHD?

A distracted child in art class.
Is this girl just daydreaming or could she have ADHD?. Photo by Getty Images

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians evaluate children between the ages of 4 through 18 years of age for ADHD if they have "academic or behavioral problems and symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity."

Although there is a perception that ADHD is overdiagnosed and that kids are overmedicated, in many areas, ADHD actually goes undiagnosed.

"Reports from parents or guardians, teachers, and other school and mental health clinicians involved in the child’s care" should help your pediatrician figure out if your child does or doesn't have ADHD.

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ADHD Symptom Checklists

A mom filling out a form about her child at her pediatrician's office.
The parent versions of the ADHD checklists will help evaluate for ADHD symptoms at home. Photo by RichLegg/Getty Images

ADHD symptom checklists are one of main tools that your pediatrician will use to diagnose your child. They can also be used to follow your child's progress after he is diagnosed.

ADHD symptom checklists include:

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