Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder characterized by a constant pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with daily functioning and development. While some people with ADHD only have problems relating to one of the behaviors, others may experience both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Most children have a combined type of ADHD. Although it’s normal to have some characteristics of inattention, unfocused motor activity and impulsivity, those with ADHD experience these behaviors in a much more severe manner and experience them more often than people without ADHD. These behaviors interfere with the quality of how those with ADHD function socially, in a job or at school. A person suffering from inattention often wanders off task, has difficulty maintaining focus, is disorganized and lacks persistence. However, it’s important to note that these behaviors are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension. People with inattention may experience problems with organization, become easily distracted and forgetful, overlook details, don’t listen when spoken to, and avoid activities that require sustained mental effort.

People with symptoms of inattention may often:

  • Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
  • Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily sidetracked
  • Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as what to do in sequence,keeping materials and belongings in order, having messy work and poor time management, and failing to meet deadlines

A person suffering from hyperactivity is constantly moving about, regardless of whether it’s appropriate or inappropriate in the given situation. This person may excessively tap, talk, fidget and appear restless. Those with impulsivity characteristics may make hasty decisions and actions, desire immediate rewards and cannot delay gratification. This person may be socially intrusive, may interrupt others and make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences. People suffering from hyperactivity-impulsivity may talk nonstop, are unable to quietly engage in activities, run and climb around in inappropriate situations, leave their seatsunexpectedly, blurt out answers and are constantly in motion.

People with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may often:

  • Leave their seats in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom or in the office
  • Run or dash around or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or, in teens and adults, often feel restless
  • Be unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly
  • Be constantly in motion or “on the go,” or act as if “driven by a motor”
  • Talk nonstop
  • Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed, finish other people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in conversation
  • Have trouble waiting his or her turn