The three most common signs of ADHD

Good to know.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common chronic conditions that affects children.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, four to twelve percent of school-age children have ADHD, with boys being diagnosed three times more often than girls. Signs of ADHD overlap with typical early childhood behaviours, meaning the condition often becomes most apparent once a child begins preschool or elementary school. 

Here are the three most common signs of ADHD:

1. Inattention

Inattention is one of the main signs of ADHD in children. has put together the following detailed list of behaviours that may indicate inattention caused by ADHD:

  • Doesn’t pay attention to details
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
  • Appears not to listen when spoken to
  • Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
  • Has trouble staying organised, planning ahead, and finishing projects
  • Gets bored with a task before it’s completed
  • Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items

2. Hyperactivity 

If your child has excessive motor activity and cannot sit still and squirms around a lot, it could be an early sign of ADHD. lists the following behaviours as potential signs of ADHD-related hyperactivity: 

  • Constantly fidgets and squirms
  • Often leaves his or her seat in situations where sitting quietly is expected
  • Moves around constantly; often runs or climbs inappropriately
  • Talks excessively
  • Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
  • Is always ‘on the go,’ as if driven by a motor
  • May have a quick temper or a ‘short fuse’

3. Impulsivity

It has been noted in several case studies that children with ADHD are impulsive. 

According to, the following behaviours are all signs of impulsivity that could be caused by ADHD.

  • Blurts out answers in class without waiting to be called on or hear the whole question
  • Can’t wait for his or her turn in line or in games
  • Says the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Often interrupts others
  • Intrudes on other people’s conversations or games
  • Inability to keep powerful emotions in check, resulting in angry outbursts or temper tantrums
  • Guesses, rather than taking time to solve a problem

This article is not intended as medical advice. If you are concerned your child is exhibiting signs of ADHD, consult your local GP.

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