Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - Symptoms

Doctors use a standard reference book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) to diagnose ADHD. A patient must show some combination of the following symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD.

  • Fails to pay close attention to detail or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork and other activities
  • Has difficulty paying attention to tasks or activities
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Does not follow through on instruction and does not finish tasks
  • Has difficulty in organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as homework
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities
  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
  • Does not remain seated when expected to
  • Runs or climbs when inappropriate
  • Has difficulty playing quietly
  • Is constantly on the move
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Has difficulty waiting for his or her turn
  • Interrupts and/or intrudes on others

Doctors also make use of other information in diagnosing ADHD. For example, some symptoms have to show up before the age of seven. In addition, there must be evidence that a child cannot function normally in at least two settings, such as home and school.

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