Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that affects between 3% and 5% of school children and 2% and 4% of adults. Symptoms of the condition are also different between adults and children which make the diagnosis more difficult.
The diagnosis of ADHD appears to be more common and more socially acceptable in children than it does in adults. Society appears to hold the opinion that adults should be able to control their behaviors while children are given a bit more latitude. The symptoms that may be common in children will also change as they grow through adolescence making parenting a teen even more difficult than it is already.
The American Psychiatric Association recognizes the DSM-IV or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a comprehensive classification of officially recognized disorders. The DSM-IV lists criteria for the diagnosis of ADHD that fall in either the inattentive or hyperactive categories.
Based on their criteria there are three different types of ADHD. There is a Combined Type in which there are criteria from both the inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive factors; there is the Predominantly Inattentive Type when criteria from the inattentive type is met but the criteria from the hyperactive/impulse haven”t been consistently met for the past six months; and there is the Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type when criteria from the hyperactive/impulsive factors are met but non from the inattentive are met for the past six months.
The DSM-IV lists 9 criteria that are in the inattentive factors. Children or adults who are diagnosed with Predominantly Inattentive Type or Combined Type must meet at least six or more of the symptoms and they must be present for at least six months at a level that is disruptive and inappropriate for the persons developmental level. These inattentive factors are:
- Make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities; doesn”t give close attention to details.
- Has trouble keeping their attention on task or play activities.
- Doesn”t seem to be listening when they are spoken to directly.
- Often doesn”t follow instructions and fails to finish chores, duties, or schoolwork but this failure isn”t related to oppositional behavior or failure to understand the instructions.
- Has trouble organizing activities.
- Often dislikes or doesn”t want to do things that take mental effort for a period of time such as schoolwork.
- Will lose things needed for a task or activity.
- Is easily distracted.
- Is often forgetful in daily activities at home, school or work.
There are 6 factors that fall under the Hyperactivity criteria and 3 under Impulsivity. At least six of these must be present for six months that are disruptive and inappropriate for the child or adults developmental level:
- Fidgeting with hands or feet; squirms in the seat.
- Will get up from the seat when sitting is expected.
- Runs about or climbs when it”s not appropriate. Adults and adolescents will feel restless.
- Has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activity quietly.
- People will describe that they are driven or ‘on the go’ constantly.
- May talk excessively.
- May blurt out answers before the questions are finished.
- Will have trouble waiting for their turn.
- May intrude on others games or conversations.
The DSM-IV also states that these factors were present before age 7 and that these symptoms are present in two or more settings. In other words the child doesn”t act this way just in class but can control their behavior at home or at their friend”s home. Instead they have the same symptoms at home, at their friends and at school or work. And these symptoms cannot be explained by another mental disorder.