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Merck Manual

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Signs of ADHD

Signs of ADHD

All signs do not have to be present for a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, 6 or more signs of inattention or of hyperactivity and impulsivity must always be present for a diagnosis (or 6 from each group to diagnose the combined type of ADHD). Signs must be present in two or more situations (for example, at home and at school) and must interfere with social or academic functioning.

Signs of inattention:

  • Often fails to pay close attention to details

  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in work and play

  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish tasks

  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort

  • Often loses things

  • Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

  • Is often forgetful

Signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity:

  • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms

  • Often leaves seat in classroom and elsewhere

  • Often runs about or climbs excessively

  • Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly

  • Is often on the go or acts as if “driven by a motor”

  • Often talks excessively

  • Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed

  • Often has difficulty waiting to take turns

  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others