Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, is among the most common childhood disorders. It presents with symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, that must be present in at least 2 settings (home, school, work, etc.). People can have varying degrees of impairment based on symptoms that are present. ADHD begins in childhood, and symptoms must be present to some degree before the age of 12. Below are the diagnostic criteria for ADHD:


  1. Difficulty paying attention
  2. Easily distracted by things in the environment
  3. Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  4. Does not pay attention to details, makes frequent careless mistakes
  5. Often does not follow through on instructions/directions
  6. Is disorganized, messy, or has poor time management
  7. Frequently loses important things
  8. Forgetful in daily activities
  9. Avoids doing things that require sustained attention


  1. Seems to be in constant motion (“acts as if driven by a motor”)
  2. Cannot stay in their seat when expected
  3. Squirms/fidgets a lot
  4. Cannot play quietly or leisurely
  5. Has trouble waiting their turn
  6. Blurts out answers before the question has been completed
  7. Talks excessively
  8. Interrupts or intrudes on others
  9. Running or climbing in situations where it is inappropriate

Several years ago, we used to distinguish between kids who had just inattentive symptoms, previously referred to as ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder), and kids who had hyperactive/impulsive symptoms in addition to their inattention, which was commonly known as ADHD. This terminology has since been changed. To meet clinical criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD, a person must have 6 or more symptoms in at least one of the above categories. You do not need to have 6 symptoms in each category.

You can screen for ADHD by completing some forms for your provider. Common screening tools used include Vanderbilt assessments and the PSC-17. The Vanderbilt assessment has a parent and teacher component to it, to ensure that symptoms are present both at home and school.

There are other mental health disorders that can mimic symptoms of ADHD, including anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and substance use.

If you are concerned that your child may have ADHD, please consult with their pediatrician or a psychiatrist.

Some helpful resources include:

Children and Adults with ADHD –

ADHD Family Support Center –

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill –


*Edited and created by Dr. Lauren Zohler on 5/25/21.