ADHD is diagnosed with primarily inattentive symptoms or primarily hyperactive and impulsive symptoms. These diagnoses are not as common as ADHD combined type, which includes traits from each type. Symptoms must start before the age of seven and be present for at least 6 months.
The child diagnosed with ADHD combined type experiences symptoms, not only of inattentiveness, but also impulsivity and hyperactivity. Mayo Clinic reports that more children are diagnosed with ADHD combined type than ADHD inattentive type or ADHD hyperactive/impulsive type. When the ADHD child attempts to focus and put mental effort into an activity like homework, symptoms of ADHD are more obvious.
Children diagnosed with inattentive ADHD seem not to be listening when they are being spoken to directly; they don’t pay attention to the teacher, they overlook small details and make mistakes when doing class work; they have a hard time focusing their attention at play (playing games) or in the classroom (they drift off or are easily distracted by something other than classwork). Some families describe this trait as, “Oooh, look a shiny thing!" Children with inattentive ADHD don’t pay attention when instructions are being given; they don’t finish homework or hand in completed homework. These children frequently forget things, lose school supplies, books and homework, have difficulty with organizing time and plans and they do not like doing work that requires them to pay attention for more than a few minutes. These inattentive symptoms are featured in ADHD combined type. These children quickly and frequently shift from one activity to the next, without finishing the first one; they may also procrastinate.
For girls diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, their inattention takes the form of daydreaming.
Children diagnosed with impulsive ADHD interrupt conversations, blurt answers out in class, are impatient, overall, and unable to wait in a long line and can be aggressive (handling items roughly, suffer frequent physical injuries and easily break items. Girls with impulsive ADHD are more likely to develop fears, mood problems of symptoms of depression.
Children with ADHD impulsive type may take part in dangerous activities before they think about the dangers. They also experience more physical injuries because they act before thinking, e.g., climbing up a tall tree to retrieve a ball stuck on a roof.
Children diagnosed with hyperactive ADHD fidget, talk too much, can’t stay seated, make lots of noise, are restless as adolescents, run and climb excessively and their level of activity appears to be driven. These children get up often to walk around.
Children diagnosed with ADHD, combined type have symptoms from the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive types. These children might be inattentive in the classroom or when trying to do homework. As soon as they begin an activity they enjoy, their ability to focus improves markedly -- the parent may have a hard time getting the child’s attention.
The child diagnosed with ADHD combined type is also hyperactive, fidgety and unable to stop incessant movements. While sitting at a desk in school, for instance, their legs are constantly bouncing or they drum a pencil on top of the desk. These children are also noisy and appear unable to play without making excessive noise. They also appear unaware they are interrupting others, breaking into ongoing conversations. As the child matures into adolescence, the hyperactivity continues, but takes on more traits of restlessness.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
ADHD Signs and Symptoms
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Symptoms of ADHD