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ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is an ongoing behavior disorder typically diagnosed at age five or six, although the symptoms have usually been observed much earlier than this age. The three key symptoms are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. These symptoms typically interfere with the child's functioning in social and academic settings. The diagnostic criteria were outlined in 1994 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
The child often fails to give attention to details, or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
The child often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
An additional symptom of ADHD in adults is the lack of follow through on instructions or failure to finish duties in the workplace.
The child often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
The child is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
The child often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in their seat.
The child often leaves the seat in the classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
The child often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
The child often blurts out answers before the questions have been completed.
The child often experiences difficulty awaiting his or her turn.
One can see why there is an age limitation on these behaviors being defined as "abnormal," as the majority of them are typical of much younger children. But in the non-ADHD child, these behaviors are typically outgrown. And, of course, there are a variety of other conditions in which these symptoms occur other than ADHD. Your doctor must carry out a very detailed evaluation before the diagnosis of ADHD is made. But please don't delay! If you or your child's teachers suspect ADHD, begin the evaluation as soon as possible. Early recognition and treatment of ADHD can improve your child's chances for long-term social and academic success.