ADHD symptoms look different at different ages

During early childhood, hyperactive and impulsive symptoms are more obvious.
  • Children may move before thinking or seem "driven by a motor."
  • Teens and adults may look calmer, but feel restless inside. They may talk in sudden bursts.
  • Symptoms of hyperactivity may become less obvious as a child grows older. By the teen years, the hyperactivity symptoms may be gone but the inattention will usually remain.
  • Symptoms of inattention usually last from childhood to adulthood. These symptoms include forgetfulness, disorganization, and problems concentrating.

ADHD symptoms are not always the same

Children with ADHD always have some symptoms. However:
  • They may look different in different children.
  • They may change depending on what the child is doing.
  • They may be different at school, at home, or in another setting.
  • They may change from day to day and from moment to moment.
  • They may become worse when the child is bored, unsupervised, or doing something difficult.
  • They may become better when the child is doing something he enjoys, when he is rewarded immediately, or when he is closely supervised.
  • They are often less noticeable in girls than in boys.

Getting Help

Many children go through phases where they're restless or inattentive. This is often completely normal and doesn't necessarily mean they have ADHD.

However, you should consider raising your concerns with your child's teacher, our special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or GP if you think their behaviour is significantly different to their siblings/ others of a similar age.

It's also a good idea to speak to your GP if you're an adult and you think you may have ADHD, but you weren't diagnosed with the condition as a child.

NHS - Further information on ADHD

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Local and National Support Groups

Maudsley Teacher and Parent Strategies