Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting children and adults. Individuals with ADHD often have difficulty functioning in school or work settings, especially when sustained attention is required. They also are prone to acting impulsively which can lead to serious problems. ADHD can also affect one’s relationships.
Although ADHD will present differently in different people the common features include: much more difficulty remaining on tasks than one’s peers, particularly those tasks paced by someone else like a teacher; getting easily distracted by sights or sounds that are unrelated to the task at hand; difficulty thinking before acting and considering the consequences of the action; difficulty delaying gratification; and frequently becoming overly aroused, which presents as excessive restlessness, fidgetiness, or difficulty sitting still when required to do so. Individuals with ADHD are also more prone to getting frustrated easily and that frustration may lead to severe temper tantrums.
It is important to get a thorough and accurate evaluation if you suspect your child or family member has ADHD because other problems like inadequate sleep, anxiety and depression, and some medical problems can cause some of these ADHD symptoms.. A comprehensive evaluation should include a detailed interview to obtain developmental and school history, family history, since this disorder often runs in families, behavior rating scales, observation of the person (ideally where the symptoms are occurring), and sometimes neuropsychological testing is helpful. Keep in mind, however, there is no single psychological or medical test that by itself is diagnostic of ADHD. If you suspect that your child or a family member may have ADHD it is highly recommended that you contact a medical or mental health professional, like me, who can conduct this type of diagnostic evaluation.
Two websites I have found helpful for more information about ADHD—its symptoms, causes, and treatments—are www.chadd.org and http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/index.shtml.