Identifying and Treating ADHD in Children and Adults

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that is often associated with children. About nine percent of children aged 3 to 17 are diagnosed with this chronic condition. Though childhood is the most common time for a diagnosis of ADHD, about four percent of adults also have the condition. In fact, according to the National Resource Center on ADHD (CHADD), 75 percent of children who have ADHD also have symptoms that affect their adult lives.

ADHD Symptoms

The symptoms of ADHD are classified into one of three categories: impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity. Many of these behaviors are seen in children and adults without ADHD, which can make a diagnosis challenging. A key factor is that a person with ADHD exhibits these symptoms on a more frequent basis and for longer than six months. They also have a difficult time controlling the behaviors associated with ADHD.


Some signs of impulsiveness include difficulty sharing, waiting or taking turns, general impatience, acting without thinking of the consequences and interrupting others.


Inattention can take on many forms but some of the most commonly seen symptoms are getting bored easily, having difficulty following directions, not paying attention or listening when someone is talking to them, getting easily distracted, being unable to process information rapidly and daydreaming.


The symptoms of hyperactivity are often difficult to ignore. Some classic signs include playing or touching everything, fidgeting, talking non-stop, squirming and difficulty sitting still.

What Causes ADHD?

Even though ADHD has been studied multiple times, researchers are not able to pinpoint its exact cause. It has been discovered, however, that there is a strong genetic link with the disorder. Environmental factors could also play a role in increasing a person's chances of having ADHD. These include brain injury, early childhood exposure to pesticides or lead, premature birth, exposure to alcohol or cigarette smoke while in utero and low birth weight.

Conditions That Co-Occur With ADHD

As the result of the behaviors that a person with ADHD has, other conditions that are related are likely to crop up. Residual symptoms in both children and adults who grapple with ADHD can include troubled relationships, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, sleep disruptions, conduct disorders and challenges at school and work. There are effective strategies that children and adults can learn to cope with their ADHD symptoms.

ADHD Treatment Options

Successfully treating ADHD in children involves a comprehensive strategy that includes medical professionals, family members and school personnel. A combination of both medication and behavioral treatment has been shown to be more effective than using either as a stand-alone option. Much the same approach for treatment is taken with adults who have ADHD with a more precise focus on those areas of their life that are most affected by the condition.

Though the behaviors that arise because of ADHD can be challenging, there is help available. You are not alone in coping with this disorder. With the right combination of treatment options, children and adults with ADHD can enjoy satisfying, happy and productive lives.

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