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Childhood / Teenage Attention Deficit Disorder

An Introduction to ADHD in Children & Teenagers

By Regina Bussing, M.D. and John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

This resource is focused on children and teens. Click here for information and treatment of adult ADHD.

Childhood Attention Deficit DisorderHas your child or teenager ever had trouble concentrating, found it hard to sit still, interrupted others during a conversation or acted impulsively without thinking things through? Can you recall times when your child or teen was lost in a seemingly endless train of daydreams or had difficulty focusing on the task at hand?

Most of us can picture our child or teenage son or daughter acting this way from time to time. But for some children and teens, these and other exasperating behaviors are uncontrollable, persistently plaguing their day-to-day existence and interfering with their ability to form lasting friendships or succeed in school and at home. Left untreated, such symptoms can even impact their ability to get into the college they want, or advance in their desired career.

Unlike a broken bone or diabetes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, also sometimes referred to as just plain attention deficit disorder or ADD) does not show physical signs that can be detected by a blood or other lab test*. The typical ADHD symptoms often overlap with those of other physical and psychological disorders.

The causes remain unknown, but ADHD can be diagnosed and effectively treated. Many resources are available to support families in managing ADHD behaviors when they occur.

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Attention deficit disorder has been around a lot longer than most people realize. In fact, a condition that appears to be similar to ADHD was described by Hippocrates, who lived from 460 to 370 BC. The name Attention Deficit Disorder was first introduced in 1980 in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 1994 the definition was altered to include three groups within ADHD: the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type; the predominantly inattentive type; and the combined type (in the DSM-5, these are now referred to as "presentations").

ADHD usually appears first in childhood, before age 12.

We've compiled this library of ADHD resources for you to explore. We encourage you to take your time with these resources, print out things you'd like to read more carefully, and bring anything you have additional questions about to your family doctor or a mental health professional.

The good news is that attention deficity hyperactivity disorder is readily treated nowadays with psychiatric medications and psychotherapy. Don't be put off by the number of things written about ADHD -- because it's a serious mental illness, a lot has been written about it! Read what you need, and leave the rest for another day. Symptoms of Childhood ADHD...

Living with ADHDLiving with ADHD
While no two people experience ADHD in exactly the same way, it helps to know that you and your child are not alone. These articles help your child or teen who's living with ADHD.

ADHD Strategies That Work ADHD Strategies that Work
Finding the right motivational and behavioral strategies that actually work in children and teens with ADHD can be a challenge. These tips can help.

Frequently Asked Questions About Childhood ADHD
What are the basic facts about ADHD? Where can you go to learn the answers for people's most commonly asked questions about ADHD?



* - Note: Some practitioners claim there are brain scan tests like SPECT that can "diagnose" ADHD; however these tests are experimental and used for research purposes only. No insurance company reimburses for such brain scan tests, and no research has demonstrated they are any more accurate or reliable than traditional diagnostic measures for ADHD.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Jun 2016
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.