Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
September 16, 2021
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

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Do you feel like ADHD is stopping you from achieving your goals? ADHD has a lot of misconceptions and it’s hard to know what it really is.

In this blog post, we will talk about ADHD symptoms for different groups of people and how ADHD can be diagnosed. You’ll also find different ADHD checklists that can help you track all the symptoms and see if they match up with ADHD or not. 

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a neurologically based chronic disorder. It’s most often found in kids who have impulsive, hyperactive behavior and difficulties with attention.

ADHD is more common than autism and has been established as one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders of childhood. The symptoms clearly affect, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.

Stimulant medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, or Vyvanse are frequently used to treat ADHD. Both children and adults with ADHD experience the same symptoms. The symptoms can appear differently in each age group.

The symptoms of ADHD are not better explained by another mental disorder. These could be a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or personality disorder. The signs and symptoms do not generally occur only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disease.

There is a lot of evidence that the symptoms of ADHD interfere with or impede social, academic, and occupational performance. Three presentations of ADHD can be diagnosed, based on the types of symptoms.

Three Subtypes of ADHD

You may be familiar with three subtypes of ADHD. The three subtypes are Hyperactive/Impulsive Type, Inattentive Type, and Combined Type. Sometimes ADHD sufferers will fall into more than one category.

  1. Hyperactive-impulsive type

The individual with hyperactivity impulsivity finds it difficult to stay on task. They’re easily distracted by their surroundings or what’s going on around them. They are quick, fidgety, and restless. Hyperactive impulsive symptoms are typically more noticeable than the symptoms of inattentive ADHD.

  1. Inattentive type

Individuals with this type of ADHD have a hard time focusing. This is due to their propensity to be distracted by their own thoughts or daydreaming. If they are not redirected, they will quickly lose focus during a conversation.

  1. Combined type

This presents with symptoms from both categories of hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattentive ADHD. Being diagnosed with combined type ADHD does not necessarily mean your ADHD will be more severe.

A person with a lot of hyperactivity and impulsiveness may still have symptoms from the inattentive symptom list.

In some cases, a combined ADHD diagnosis will not be given if the subtype is inconsistent with the full five or six symptoms. With combined type ADHD, it’s more probable that your symptoms will be equally distributed between the two forms.

ADHD Checklist for Parents

Checklists can be used by parents to determine whether or not their youngster has ADHD. When assessing signs of ADHD in children, you should look for these common ADHD symptoms.

The symptoms of ADHD typically appear in children between the ages of three and five. Children with undiagnosed ADHD may display these behaviors.

It’s critical to remember that not all diagnosed cases of ADHD will demonstrate overt hyperactivity. It’s critical to examine for ADHD symptoms in youngsters.

If your child is exhibiting ADHD symptoms, you might be wondering if they have ADHD. It can help to ask yourself some questions.

  • Is your child distracted easily?
  • Does he or she have a hard time focusing on tasks?
  • Is your child disorganized and forgetful?
  • Does he or she have a hard time following through with instructions?
  • Does your child have a hard time listening to you when you talk directly with them?
  • Does he or she have a hard time concentrating when playing games?
  • Do tasks take your child longer than you think they should to complete?
  • Does your child have a hard time being patient with others, especially in helping out around the house?
  • Is your child impulsive and/or easily frustrated?
  • Does he or she have a hard time controlling emotions?
  • Does your child have a hard time with transitions?
  • Do you notice that he or she has difficulty falling asleep and/or waking up in the morning?

ADHD Checklist for Children

Children can use checklists to see if they have ADHD. The ADHD checklists for children are used to determine if your child may have ADHD. These checklists can be useful for parents and teachers of young ADHD children.

ADHD symptoms in preschoolers are often harder to recognize or diagnose, but there is help available for ADHD kids. Children who have these kinds of behaviors may be suffering from undiagnosed ADHD.

  • Self-focused behavior
  • Trouble waiting for your turn
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Fidgeting
  • Problems playing quietly
  • Trouble finishing tasks
  • Lack of focus on tasks and makes careless mistakes.
  • Forgetfulness
  • Has difficulty doing leisure activities quietly.

ADHD Checklist for Teachers

Teachers may utilize checklists to identify symptoms of ADHD in their students. Children who have these kinds of behaviors may be suffering from undiagnosed ADHD.

ADHD symptoms in school-aged children are often harder to identify, but ADHD kids can be helped. These are all common ADHD symptoms that you should look out for when seeing signs of ADHD in children:

  • The student has difficulty sustaining attention to details or makes frequent blunders.
  • Has trouble focusing on activities or activities.
  • When spoken to directly, he does not appear to pay attention.
  • The student does not finish what they start. They don’t do their schoolwork.
  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
  • Tasks that need sustained mental effort are avoided, disliked, or reluctant to perform.
  • Loses items required for schoolwork, such as homework, pencils, or books.
  • Is easily distracted by other things.
  • Is forgetful in daily activities.
  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations where remaining seated is expected.

ADHD Checklist for Students

A student checklist is meant for students who are experiencing signs of ADHD. It’s possible that a child with ADHD is being misdiagnosed. A parent, teacher, or other authority figures might tell them that they have ADHD and are to blame for their issues.

This checklist can help you better understand ADHD in school and make it an educational tool for you.

  • Do you have trouble focusing on homework?
  • Do you have trouble paying attention in class?
  • Do you have difficulty organizing tasks?
  • Do you have a hard time keeping up with schoolwork?
  • Do you not finish schoolwork on time?
  • Do you get distracted easily?
  • Are your grades low or do you fail classes despite reasonable efforts?
  • Do you have a hard time finishing tests?
  • Do you often lose belongings needed for school?
  • Do you often forget things that you need to do?

ADHD Checklist for Adults

Adults can use checklists to monitor the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD in adults can be difficult to identify. ADHD symptoms for adults may vary from those of children and teenagers.

Symptoms of inattention in adults can be harder to recognize or diagnose. ADHD often goes undiagnosed and untreated, it is important that you know the ADHD

  • Difficulty staying organized
  • Trouble keeping track of time
  • Trouble paying attention.
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Trouble waiting in lines
  • Trouble keeping up with the workload
  • Inability to tune out distractions
  • Trouble with daydreaming and mind-wandering

ADHD Checklist DSM-5

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a manual used to classify various mental disorders. The DSM was written by the American Psychiatric Association.

It is the standard classification of mental disorders used in health care and mental health settings in North America. It is also used in many other parts of the world.

The DSM-IV was published in 1994. The text revision, the DSM-V, has been approved by the American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees. The DSM provides diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.

It also describes the symptoms and issues that may be related to each disorder. ADHD guidelines are based on this checklist.

According to the DSM-5, inattention can be diagnosed if there are six or more symptoms that are characteristic of ADHD in children up to the age of 16. Five or more symptoms for adolescents 17 and older. Several symptoms are as follows:

  • This person does not pay attention to details. Makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities.
  • This person might have trouble concentrating on things they are doing.
  • Sometimes, this person does not seem to listen to what you say.
  • This person often doesn’t do what they are told or finish their school assignments.
  • They often have trouble organizing tasks and activities
  • People with ADHD frequently avoid activities that require sustained mental effort.
  • Often loses things that they need to complete tasks or activities.
  • They are often distracted by extraneous stimuli.
  • They are often forgetful in daily activities.

What Causes ADHD?

Researchers think that genetics and heredity are deciding factors for who gets ADHD. Scientists are investigating whether certain genes may play a role in developing ADHD. Especially genes linked to the brain’s dopamine. Some possible causes are genetics, environmental factors, or disruption of development.

While in the womb, the individual may have been exposed to alcohol or drugs.

Researchers have begun to link ADHD with Klinefelter syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Additionally, it has been discovered that ADHD may be hereditary, pointing to a genetic component. A complex mix of environmental and genetic variables might cause ADHD.

A study published in the Journal Pediatrics found that maternal smoking before and during pregnancy is linked to ADHD. Smoking is also linked to preterm birth and low birth weight. ADHD has been connected to lead poisoning, as well as environmental tobacco smoke.

Comorbidities include learning difficulties, behavioral issues, anxiety disorders, sadness, and substance abuse. Furthermore, individuals with ADHD are more likely to contemplate suicide than non-ADHD persons.

How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

The method for diagnosing ADHD is the same for all types. An expert healthcare professional undertakes a thorough examination. The doctor will gather information from a variety of sources, including an interview with you. They will need your medical history, and your educational history.

There are many ways to screen people. You might also do memory tests, attention, and distraction tests. A child’s parent will likely be interviewed if they are being assessed.

The clinician will assess whether the DSM-5‘s criteria for ADHD have been satisfied at the conclusion of the evaluation. If it has, you or your child may be diagnosed with ADHD. An inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or combined presentation of ADHD will be given to you or your child.

There is no physiological test to diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Physicians use rating scales like the Swanson, Nolan and Pelham rating scale (SNAP) to make such judgments.

SNAP is based on the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM). The DSM criteria for each mental illness are used to evaluate the client. Doctors will also learn about your family and how you do in school.

Sleep deprivation or food allergies might produce similar symptoms. It’s critical to eliminate any of these possibilities before determining whether you have ADHD. If you rule out all other explanations for your child’s behavior, then they can be diagnosed with ADHD.

The Bottom Line

You should not use online checklists to replace what your healthcare provider tells you. They may have different checklists that they use. ADHD symptoms can vary across a person’s lifespan. It’s important to use ADHD questionnaires and ADHD scales on a regular basis in order to get an accurate ADHD diagnosis.

It is also recommended that you keep your child’s medical records up to date. This is due to the fact that not every individual who does an ADHD evaluation will be aware of all of the symptoms. This is especially true if they are examining prior data.

Parents and teachers of kids with learning difficulties such as ADHD require extra help. When it comes to giving acceptable care and support, these groups frequently overlap.

Now, if you feel like you need more guidance from a mental health professional than just following checklists, feel free to take advantage of this ADHD quiz—and get all the resources and tools you need to get started on your journey of managing ADHD. 

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