Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Diagnostic codes: 314.00, predominantly inattentive type; 314.01, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type; 314.01, combined type Adapted from DSM-PC and DSM-IV-TR. Refer to DSM-PC and DSM-IV/DSM-IV-TR for full psychiatric criteria and further description.

When a child’s or adolescent’s inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity occur in many different settings over a long period and impair his functioning, this indicates that he may have a disorder rather than a problem.

Description of Symptoms

ADHD presents differently in children and teens of different ages. To meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD, these symptoms need to have been present before age 7.


  • While rarely diagnosed in infancy, a child who is later diagnosed with ADHD often has a history of a brief gaze, difficulty finishing tasks (e.g., crawling to an object), marked distractibility while eating, and/or early motor development with increased squirming and climbing.

Early Childhood

  • Compared with other children his age, child seems immature, is easily distracted, cannot complete activities, and often misses important information (e.g., rules of a game).
  • Child runs, jumps, and climbs excessively indoors, cannot sit still for meals and stories, and is often "into things."

Middle Childhood and Adolescence

  • Child or teen works below his potential in school, is messy and careless about his work, gives up easily, has trouble organizing tasks, and seems not to listen.
  • Child or teen talks and interrupts others excessively, cannot sit still for meals, and fidgets; younger child disrupts others with noise, whereas teen interrupts, annoys, and is often in trouble.

More Resources for Diagnosing ADHD