The main symptoms of ADHD are inattentionhyperactivity, and impulsiveness, but they can look quite different in a child versus an adult. Here are some examples.

Hyperactivity

Children

  • In constant motion
  • Run and climb excessively
  • Constantly fidget or squirm
  • Get up, drop pencils, cause classroom distractions
  • Can’t sit still
  • Talk excessively

Adults

  • In constant motion, tapping feet, doodling, fidgeting
  • Easily bored
  • Move from job to job
  • Leave projects uncompleted
  • Restless
  • Have trouble sitting still
  • Like active, risky, fast paced activities and jobs

Inattention

Children

  • Easily distracted
  • Make careless mistakes in schoolwork
  • Don’t pay attention to details
  • Short attention span for age
  • Avoid homework or schoolwork
  • Seem to not listen when spoken to
  • Don’t complete projects or chores
  • Move from activity to activity
  • Disorganized
  • Lose things, forgetful

Adults

  • Lose or misplace items (e.g., keys, phone numbers, important papers)
  • Forgetful about routine tasks (e.g., picking up the kids)
  • Leave tasks uncompleted
  • Easily distracted, move from task to task
  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Lack self-motivation
  • Lose track of time, poor time management
  • Disorganized, problems prioritizing
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty multitasking

Impulsiveness

Children

  • Appear rude or have behavioral problems
  • Blurt out comments in conversations or in school
  • Have problems waiting their turn
  • Interrupt others, jump into games other kids are playing
  • Act without thinking about risk (e.g., jumping from the top of a slide or running into the street)

Adults

  • Spend money impulsively, wreaking havoc on household budgets
  • Drive fast, gamble, or have risky sex
  • Interrupt others in conversation
  • Blurt out offensive or hurtful comments without thinking
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Trouble with the law
  • Alcohol or other substance misuse

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