Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Is it hard for your child to sit still? Does your child act without thinking first? Does your child start but not finish things? If so, your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD for short.) Nearly everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, but ADHD lasts more than 6 months and causes problems in school, at home and in social situations.

ADHD is more common in boys than girls, and it affects roughly 4 percent of children in the United States and around the world. The principal characteristics of ADHD are:

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity

ADHD is a neuro-developmental disorder, which means it is present from birth and is almost totally genetic in nature.  In fact, it is as heritable as height.  There are measurable differences in the brains of people with ADHD, and this is what causes both the problems and advantages of people with ADHD (yes, there is a positive side to it)!  One problem in getting an accurate diagnosis is that there is no one symptom that is exclusive to ADHD.  Another is that the symptoms are to some degree present in almost everyone – it is just that with ADHD the symptoms are severe and cause problems in multiple areas of one’s life.  A comprehensive psychological evaluation by a trained professional  is the only way to know for sure if you or your child has ADHD.  For more information about psychological testing for ADHD, click here.

Treatment most often includes medicines, skills training, and education.  In fact, all three are important.  Structure at home and at school is also important. Parenting classes or behavioral therapy may also help.

After getting a formal diagnosis, our psychologists will give the family a vast amount of information and resources to become familiar with.  With this information and consultation with a mental health professional,  families can decide on a course of treatment that best fits their needs.

A diagnosis of ADHD qualifies a person for special accommodations in school, such as extra time on tests, taking tests in a quiet and stimulus-free environment, amongst others.  See below for more information about this.

For more information about ADHD, click here:

Further information and resources:

ADHD Strategies handout

ADHD booklet (National Institute of Mental Health)

Classroom Accommodations for ADHD