Inattentive Type of ADHD
A person diagnosed with the Predominantly Inattentive type of ADHD have trouble focusing on any one thing and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. However, if they are doing something they really enjoy, they usually have no trouble paying attention. But focusing deliberate, conscious attention to organizing and completing a task or learning something new is difficult.
Homework is particularly hard. They will forget to write down an assignment, or leave it at school. They will forget to bring a book home, or bring the wrong one. The homework, if finally finished, will be full of mistakes. It is often accompanied by frustration for the child and their parents.
Inattentive people are rarely impulsive or hyperactive, but have a significant problem paying attention. They often appear to be daydreaming, “spacey,” easily confused, slow moving, and lethargic. They may process information more slowly and less accurately than others. A child with inattention has a hard time understanding what he or she is supposed to do when a teacher gives oral or even written instructions. Mistakes are frequent. The person may sit quietly and appear to be working, but in reality is not fully attending to or understanding the task and the instructions.
People with this form of ADHD often get along better with others than the more impulsive and hyperactive forms, as they may not have the same sorts of social problems common with the other forms of ADHD. Because of this, the problems with inattention are often overlooked.
Diagnostic symptoms of inattention are:
- Not giving close attention to details or making careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
- Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
- Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities, often skipping from one uncompleted activity to another (e.g., fails to meet deadlines; messy, disorganized work; difficulty keeping organized)
- Becomes easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli, like sights and sounds (or unrelated thoughts)
- Fails to pay attention to instructions and makes careless mistakes, not finishing work, chores or duties
- Loses or forgets things needed for a task, like pencils, books, assignments or tools
- Avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time
- Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., doing chores, running errands; returning calls, paying bills; keeping appointments)
A person must meet 5 or more (6 or more for children and teens) of the above symptoms for at least 6 months to qualify for this component of the ADHD diagnosis. As with all diagnoses, these behaviors must also have a direct, negative impact on the person’s social and academic/occupational functioning.
Combined Type of ADHD
A person exhibiting hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention are considered to have the combined presentation of ADHD, which combines all of the above symptoms.
Disorders related to ADD/ADHD
Updated for DSM-5 criteria, June 2013.
Grohol, J. (2007). Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-attention-deficit-disorder-adhd/0001200
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jun 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.