Children and adolescents of different temperaments differ widely in their levels of physical activity, attentiveness, and self-control. High energy levels and impulsivity are a normal part of childhood and adolescence, and children and teens often react to acute stress with temporary inattention and overactivity.
However, when a child’s or teen’s levels of overactivity, inattention, and/or impulsivity are severe and persistent and interfere with his learning, fun, or relationships, he should be evaluated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related problems.
Children and teens with ADHD can exhibit a range of problems. Some are mainly inattentive and may underperform in school and appear to be daydreamers, while others are hyperactive and impulsive. Many exhibit all three sets of ADHD symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
These different sets of symptoms are reflected in the subtypes of ADHD: inattentive type, hyperactive and impulsive type, and combined type. Children who are hyperactive may come to clinical attention at an early age because of unsafe or hard-to-control behaviors, while children and teens who are mainly inattentive are often not identified.