Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavior disorder characterized by a pattern of attention problems, hyperactive behaviors, and/or impulsive behaviors that are more frequent and severe than what is typical for a child/adult of the same age. ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood behavior disorders. Approximately 7.8% of children ages 4-17 are diagnosed with this disorder.
Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, with approximately 11% of boys ages 4-17 having the diagnosis, but only 4.4% of same-aged girls. Although symptoms of ADHD can be present in children as young as 2-3 years old, it is most commonly diagnosed in the elementary school years when the demands of school expose the problem. The most common age of diagnosis is seven years old.
In most cases, symptoms of ADHD continue through early adolescence, but begin to subside in late adolescence and adulthood. However, some individuals continue to experience mild to full-blown symptoms of ADHD well into adulthood. Approximately 4.1% of adults ages 18-44 have a diagnosis of ADHD.
The following is a list of signs associated with ADHD (American Psychological Association, 1994). Keep in mind that ADHD is not an "on-again, off-again" style of behavior. A good rule of thumb is that a person must display several of these behaviors for 6 months or more before a diagnosis of ADHD is considered.
1. Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
2. Has difficulty maintaining attention in tasks or play activities.
3. Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
4. Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to a failure to understand instructions or a refusal to follow directions or requests on purpose).
5. Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
6. Avoids or dislikes tasks that require longer periods of mental effort (such as schoolwork, homework, challenging board games, etc.).
7. Loses things needed to complete tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
8. Is easily distracted.
9. Is forgetful in day-to-day activities.
Reprinted with the permission of the University of Florida. © 2008 University of Florida.
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